Four decades ago, in his foreword to a book titled, “Baptists in Kentucky,” Franklin Owen wrote, “We believe that the moral fiber of a nation is even more important than her fiscal and military, or any other strength. We further believe that … the moral strength of a nation is rooted in her religious convictions—that a conviction of righteousness, of purpose under God, is as important to the making and keeping of a great nation as any or all of the material needs that tend to be so regarded.” Owen penned those words while he served as the executive secretary-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
The job title has changed slightly, but I occupy the same seat today as Owen did in 1975. And I share his belief: The making and keeping of a great nation is inextricably connected to its moral fiber and religious conviction. The Psalmist wrote, “Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” Proverbs 14:34 declares, “Righteousness exalts a nation.”
The moral condition of our nation is justifiably a cause for concern. Americans kill more unborn children each year than any other country, with the exception of China and Russia. In America, approximately 1 million children—or one in five—are aborted. America leads the world with a multi-billion dollar pornographic industry, with profits recently shrinking only because of the growing amount of porn that is now free online. We have the largest prison population in the world. And we spend roughly $100 billion on illegal drugs each year. These are but a few of the symptoms of America’s moral and religious decay.
What has any of that to do with you and me? We are Americans. More importantly, we are followers of Jesus Christ. And we are Baptists in Kentucky. These facts, taken together, lead me to conclude that we help make up the moral fiber and strength of our state and nation. Let us accept that role.
Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Peter wrote, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).
Kentucky Baptists, how we live, love, serve, talk to and about one another, and share Christ with the world, has a bearing both on this earthly kingdom and God’s eternal kingdom. As our country and its culture continue to decay, might we, as God’s people, conduct ourselves in a manner that the world will see and hear the gospel, for, in so doing, God will surely be glorified.