March 14, 2019
A little over a year ago, a gunman opened fire on a high school in Florida, killing 17 students and staff.
It was the worst mass shooting on a school campus in United States history, and Jay Lowder said one of the most memorable images from the crisis was this — Deputy Scot Peterson’s strategy to remain outside the school as the shooting was unfolding.
“He was the only person on campus that day with a weapon,” said Lowder, an evangelist and author from Wichita Falls, Texas. “This man from the sheriff’s department, trained and equipped to defend, to protect and to rescue stood on the side of the building and did nothing.”
The footage sent America into an uproar, Lowder said. “He will go down in infamy as a man who was indifferent … who stood by as carnage was unfolding. What a tragedy.”
Lowder told those present at the Alabama Baptist State Evangelism Conference at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, Birmingham, on Feb. 25, the image of Peterson was a good one to keep in mind as they looked at the “lukewarm” church of Laodicea in Revelation 3.
A lukewarm church could be seen as the same type of tragedy — standing by while people die all around them.
Lowder said he believes a variety of factors can make a church lukewarm. People’s dependence on their own prosperity is one. Lack of depth is another.
Laodicea was a significant banking center, a fashion center and a city of medicine. They produced an eye ointment that was exported around the world.
And the church there “was not a hot church,” Lowder said. “They were also not cold. … What Jesus said they were was lukewarm. They went to church, they sang the songs, they knew the lingo, but they were lukewarm.”
No greater danger
They had lost their passion for Christ, just for being in His presence, Lowder said.
“So many churches today are dead as a hammer.”
There is no greater danger for Christians, he said, than being close to the truth and being unmoved by it.
“There’s got to be a new kind of repentance,” Lowder said. “God says, ‘Let me heal your blindness, your lack of clarity.’ So many pastors believe their greatest days of ministry are in the rearview mirror. What is your vision? What are you trusting God to do?”
To watch videos from this year’s conference visit alsbom.org/event/state-evangelism-conference-2019.
To see photos go to https://bit.ly/2EFqgv4. (Grace Thornton)