ATLANTA — “Pastors Day at the Capitol” turned out to be not only amazingly informational, but incredibly motivational. The box lunch was very good as well.
Dabo Swinney, coach of the National Championship Clemson Tigers football team, inspired his team to forget their underdog status and defeat the giant in the land, the Alabama Crimson Tide, for the National Collegiate Football Championship.
Zig Ziglar, the much-heralded author and motivational speaker, had the ability to arouse and challenge a lackluster sales force for first one corporation and then another.
General George Patton, known for his highly-effective and charismatic leadership in WWII, inspired his inexperienced Third Army to go forth to conquer.
However, the ministers present for the “Pastors Day at the Capitol” heard a speech they will not soon forget from Georgia State Senator Marty Harbin.
The Public Affairs Ministry and the Georgia Baptist Mission Board hosted the event on Feb. 2. Mike Griffin, Georgia Baptists’ public affairs representative, presided over the meeting and offered a compellingly interesting presentation on “How to be a Citizen Lobbyist.”
Emir Caner, president of Truett McConnell University, spoke for the event. His message will be highlighted in a subsequent article, but in this report the focus will be on the Harbin’s remarks.
A sleeping giant needing to be awakened
Griffin introduced Harbin as a good Georgia Baptist, a deacon and Sunday School teacher at First Baptist Church in Fayetteville and a man with strong convictions.
Harbin began by saying, “I am not here to speak for myself, but for my grandchildren and future generations.”
“The church is a powerful giant, “Harbin stated, “but appears to be very much asleep today. Ezekiel 22:30 declares, ‘And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.’
“God is looking for men to stand in the gap – to stand up and speak up; but I fear that too many pulpits are silent on matters of civic and moral concern. Silence is not golden; it’s yellow.” The impassioned Senator was appealing to pastors to shake the complacency of those who are alarmingly apathetic and sinfully silent.
Harbin then referenced Proverbs 29:2: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked bear rule, the people mourn.
“Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is clear in its observation: ‘I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there…. in her fertile fields and boundless forests – and it was not there. … in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there. …in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there.
“’Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.’”
The new hate speech
Harbin continued, “In Acts 16:35-39 we read that the Apostle Paul used his citizenship for his protection; and we need to do the same. Our Declaration of Independence says, ‘Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the people.’ This means that the government gets all its power from the people. The people set up the government and the government is accountable to the people.
“Thomas Jefferson emphasized this point when he said, ‘The spirit of resistance to the government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive… [And] if a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.’”
Harbin continued, “And we don’t need to be indifferent about these important issues. Plato said, ‘The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.’ You must call your representative into account. Legislators are not supposed to represent special interest groups, big businesses, or the Chamber of Commerce, but they are to represent the people who put them in office.
“Have you ever thought about what happens when a nation does not listen to and obey God’s Word? Jeremiah 12:17 says, ‘But if they will not obey, I will utterly destroy that nation, saith the Lord.’
“George Orwell, the English novelist, said, ‘Truth is the new hate speech. During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.’ We must speak the truth regardless of the consequences we may have to face,” Harbin added.
How the world is destroyed
Harbin finished by giving pastors something to mull over.
“President James Garfield declared, ‘Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption.’”
Then Harbin reinforced his challenge to the pastors by quoting Albert Einstein, who said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”
The senator from Fayetteville concluded, “If we have not been involved in the process, we cannot be surprised at what we get.” Senator Harbin concluded by giving a list of the things we must do. Here they are:
- Repent of apathy.
- Know the political issues.
- Teach your people how to be good citizens.
- Know your elected officials and their voting record (Judges 8:14).
- Call and write your senators, representatives and governor.
- Support conservative candidates across the state and nation.
- Pray for your leaders and let them know who you are.
- Answer God’s call to run for office – “Here am I, send me.”