By Kelly Boggs, Message Editor
As I write this column, I do so with a new mantle of responsibility.
On Jan. 23, the Baptist Message Board of Trustee voted unanimously to approve a proposal that will place me over the public affairs work of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. See article on page 8 for more on this.
I accept this new capacity because I believe it is needful and necessary. We live in a republic that is predicated upon a participatory democracy.
One of the ways we participate is by voicing our concerns to our elected representatives over issues important to us.
As Louisiana Baptists, we routinely vote to approve resolutions at our annual meetings.
These resolutions represent our collective voice over issues we deem important.
One of the tasks in my new capacity is to represent this collective voice before elected officials when they gather in Legislative Session in Baton Rouge.
In approaching this task, I reflect on the words of Jesus who said, “You are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world …”
One thing salt and light have in common is that wherever you place them, they have a definite impact.
My prayer is that Louisiana Baptists will have an impact on our elected representatives when legislators become apprised of our biblical positions on the many moral issues they will deal with while in session at the Capitol.
I also think of the words of Charles Haddon Spurgeon when I consider the role of the Office of Public Affairs.
In his biography titled Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers, Lewis Drummond quoted the great preacher as saying:
“I often hear it said, ‘do not bring religion into politics.’
This is precisely where it ought to be brought and set there in the face of all men on a candlestick. I would have the cabinet and members of Parliament do the work of the nation, either in making war and peace, consider the matter, by the light of righteousness.”
Another voice is also worth reflecting upon when considering our role in public affairs.
“The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool,” wrote Martin Luther King, Jr. in his book Strength to Love. “If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”
One aspect of the role of the Office of Public Affairs will be to represent the concerns expressed by Louisiana Baptists by way of resolutions to the elected representatives of our state.
While only one part of this role, it is vitally important.
Over time, the Office of Public Affairs will become resource for pastors and congregations for information on a variety of issues ranging from religious liberty to what a church or pastor can and cannot legally do during an election.
Additionally, the office of Public Affairs will also provide information on the moral issues facing our state and nation.
“Do not participate in the unfruitful works of darkness,” wrote the Apostle Paul, “but rather expose them.” There are liberal activist groups that have an ungodly agenda and they must be exposed.
Another aspect of the public affairs work will be bringing church leaders and elected officials together. Over time, I hope every pastor who has a desire will have an opportunity to meet his representative and senator.
Last, but certainly not least, I want the Office of Public Affairs to encourage Louisiana Baptists to pray for their elected representatives.
Paul encouraged the young pastor Timothy to do just this when he wrote, “First of all, then, I urge that petitions, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”
Please do not think the new arrangement created by the proposal that was adopted by the Baptist Message Board will result in me being part-time in either position.
Though I have accepted a new role with additional responsibilities, each will be pursued in a full-time capacity.
My schedule will certainly take on a different look, but with the technology available today, I will be able to give attention to both my responsibilities as editor and public affairs officer.
May the Lord bless as we work together to be the salt and light the Lord would have us be.