Ronnie Floyd's 2016 Presidential Address to the SBC: The Stakes Are High
Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: "Go and assemble all the Jews who can be found in Susa and fast for me. Don't eat or drink for three days, day or night. I and my female servants will also fast in the same way. After that, I will go to the king even if it is against the law. If I perish, I perish." So Mordecai went and did everything Esther had ordered him.
Providence placed Esther at the right place at the right time to accomplish the purpose of God.
To every pastor and church leader here today, God has you where you are at the right time to accomplish the purpose of God.
The goal of Haman was to eliminate all the Jewish people. The King accommodated the desires of Haman and it became the outrageous law of the land. The Jews were to be destroyed.
Mordecai and the Jewish people began to fast, weep, and dread their fate. The stakes were high. Everything was at stake. When Queen Esther feared for her people and for herself. Esther was not scheduled to see the king for thirty days and only he could change this law. Furthermore, if she tried to see him before, it could cost her life. The stakes were high.
The legacy of this great text in Esther chapter four continues to be used in so many significant Christian gatherings today. Southern Baptist history shows that even though the theme of the 1993 Southern Baptist Convention was Esther 4:14, this text has not been used as the text of a president's message since Dr. Jaroy Weber was president in 1976. Forty years ago this week when Dr. Weber preached his message,
"Let The Church Stand Up," he did so from multiple texts. But when he did use this text briefly, his remarks were interesting and still have relevance today. He stated, "Baptists must feel deeply that this is the time and the hour for Christ and His church to act."Forty years later, I could not agree more. Now is the time again, for Christ and His Church to act. While our nation is morally sliding toward Gomorrah, our greatest problem is spiritual. The stakes are high.
We must have the same perspective and the deep conviction of Mordecai. We must believe that God will prevail!
With great conviction and boldness in the midst of this national crisis, Mordecai told Esther as recorded in Esther 4:14,
"Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this." Mordecai was deeply convinced that God had exalted Esther to be Queen to speak and to act, regardless of what happened to her. Mordecai and Esther knew the stakes couldn't be higher. How did she respond? Well, let me tell you first what she did not do.
Esther did not stand before the people in the kingdom and appoint a task force to study and bring recommendations concerning this issue. Esther did not attack Haman and send out a tweet, or get on Facebook and go on a rant like a child, or get on a website and comment about how bad Haman was, nor did she write about how evil he was. Was he evil? Were the times severe? Absolutely! The stakes were high! Remember this: If Satan cannot get us to do the wrong thing, he will get us to do the right thing in the wrong way. Both are sin. So what did Esther do?
Esther wanted Mordecai to assemble the Jews and tell them to fast and pray for her for three days. She would do the same. Then, after they had all cried out to God for three days and three nights in fasting and prayer, she would go to the king even if it cost her life. She said, "If I perish, I perish." So Mordecai and all the Jews fasted for her for three days and three nights.
Esther went before the king and received his favor. She invited him to a banquet along with Haman. In this banquet, she exposed the evil of Haman and his destructive goals. The king became outraged and commanded Haman be hung immediately. Esther and the people were spared. Miraculously, Mordecai was raised up to serve the king, and together they changed this outrageous law to preserve the people of God. God answered their cries of prayer and fasting.
Providence was at work. Providence is always at work.
Even though the stakes couldn't be higher in America, this is still true today and I do believe God is at work in America. Yet, I want to be more than clear.
AMERICA IS IN A CRISIS
The stakes are high! How many more decades can American society survive when the unraveling is taking place at our very core? Regardless of anyone's political preference, race or ethnicity, profession or career, gender or generation, or even religion, we can agree on this: America is in a crisis today. We are on the precipice of either experiencing awakening or falling into an abyss. We cannotbe adrift in denial any longer; we must face our future honestly.The stakes couldn't be higher. We are at a turning point. This is our moment of decision. In this hour please know…
America is facing a leadership crisis. Where are the leaders? We need leaders who can bring people together from all socio-economic levels, ethnicities, and generations toward a common vision for the future. These are not just rare in the world of politics, business, or sports; they are also rare in the religious world, including the Southern Baptist Convention.
America is facing a relational crisis. Our nation is divided. We are known more for being the divided states of America than the United States of America. The national political races we have observed over this past year personify the fractured, dysfunctional condition in America relationally.
America is facing a racial crisis. Twenty minutes from where we are meeting today is Ferguson, Missouri, where in August 2014, the events occurring there became the tipping point regarding the racial crisis in America. This turning point in our nation personified what was already going on under the surface around the country regarding racial issues. The towns and cities in America can no longer ignore this issue. Any form of racism defies the dignity of human life. Regardless of the color of one's skin, God has put His Divine imprint on each one of us.
Where has this conversation been in our national political races for the highest office of the land? The silence from both parties has been deafening. This cannot be.
Racism is a major sin and stronghold in America. In a recent May 5, 2016 BARNA report in Culture and Media, "The vast majority of adults agree there is a lot of anger and hostility between ethnic and racial groups in America. (84%)"
Sadly, tragically, and regrettably, it was 159 years ago that the infamous court case of Dred Scott v. Sandford resulted in a decision that many still call to this day the single worst Supreme Court decision in American history. This lower court case that began in the city of St. Louis ascended to the highest court in the land in Washington, DC. It was on March 6, 1857, when the Supreme Court ruled that all slaves and all their descendants — even if they became free — were not and could never become citizens of the United States. It was declared that as a black man, Dred Scott was not recognized as a citizen of our nation and did not have the right to sue for his freedom. While this decision was in complete violation of the United States Declaration of Independence that says, "All men are created equal," it elevated this staggering tragedy of slavery in the public arena of American life. This court decision furthered division in our nation and stoked the already flaming fire that led toward the Civil War. Listen very carefully: Within a fifteen-minute walk from where we sit today in downtown St. Louis is the Old Courthouse, where in 1846, Dred and Harriet Scott initiated a lawsuit for their freedom. This became a defining moment in our history.