Pastor Grady Caldwell of New Mercy Baptist Church in Griffin brings the morning devotional to fellow Executive Committee members Sept. 15. SCOTT BARKLEY/Index
WARNER ROBBINS – The hope for a lost and dying world is the Church, Pastor Grady Caldwell of New Mercy Baptist Church in Griffin told fellow Georgia Baptist Executive Committee members Sept. 15 as he presented the day’s devotional.
The Church, he said, has been given a “divine charge to usher in such a movement, but I also recognize that unless we as Southern Baptists learn to see one another as equal, we will miss a great opportunity that God has given to us to make a difference for the kingdom of God,” Caldwell said, quoting Georgia Baptist pastor and Administration Committee member Robert Wilson.
Part of this reconciliation that must occur to unify the body involves brothers and sisters in Christ taking a stand against “undeniable injustices” that exist, as evidenced by the horrific deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.
Caldwell, speaking on the topic of unity out of 1 Corinthians 12, said he has been asked by many of his White brothers, “What can I do?”
While he is outspoken about the fact that “only God can change a heart,” his response is this:
“What we all must do is be willing to speak out against racist statements and coded comments wherever and whenever we hear them within our circle of influence and make it clear where we stand,” Caldwell proclaimed.
“That begins with us, pastors, who God has called to shepherd his flock,” he clarified. “If there is a mist in the pulpit, there’s a fog in the pews.
“Too many of us who call ourselves followers of Christ are looking to the world to solve these spiritual issues. We look to a political party, but God never called a political party to lead the change. We look to the government, but God never called the government to lead the change. God called the church.”
The issue of racism is a sin. And sin must be brought to light, Caldwell added. Citing Acts 10, where Paul called Peter out on his racism against the Gentiles, Caldwell said, “Paul dropped the truth on Peter. And that is actually what we must be willing to do as well. Anytime our brother or sister is not walking in the truth of the gospel, we must be willing to call them out in love.”
“Your silence says you’re complicit,” Caldwell continued.
And while he grieved the violence and rioting in the streets, he pointed out that the cause must be addressed.
“Something is wrong with our hearts when we are willing to cry out against the symptom of the violence rather than the cause of the violence,” he said.
“Something is wrong with our hearts when we are willing to cry out against someone who kneels in peaceful protest against police brutality against black and brown people in this country while the national anthem is being played, but we remain silent when an officer kneels on the neck of George Floyd for 8 minutes, 46 seconds.”
God’s views on wickedness will not change, Caldwell noted, because as Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Caldwell said his call to unity is founded in the fact that he is, above all, a follower of Christ.
“Before anything else, I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. Before being Black … before being an American… before being Baptist, I’m a follower of Jesus Christ.”
He expressed gratitude for the fellowship and partnership of the Southern Baptist Convention. Caldwell further affirmed the words of SBC Executive Committee President Ronnie Floyd in his recent column urging unity.
Citing 1 Corinthians 12:12, Caldwell added, “For just as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body – so also is Christ.”