Dr. Ronnie Phillips, Jr.
The news from Paris that spread throughout Europe and across the Atlantic on Friday, November 13th, is still inconceivable, and yet the most horrific truth is that we are only temporarily stunned. We are growing accustomed to a cycle of terrorism while expecting the next attack and watching as our children’s dystopian future materializes. Just two weeks prior to the attacks in Paris, Metrojet Flight 9268 operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia, crashed in the northern Sinai on its way to St. Petersburg, killing 224 people. It is accepted world-wide that the plane crash, like the murderous terrorist attacks in Paris, was a cowardice act of terrorism. Making matters worse, these are two attacks in a month during a fifteen-year timespan that has seen some of the world’s bloodiest terrorism.
We are appalled by the pointless loss of human life, and we find terrorism grotesque while watching people of France suffer needlessly at the hands of brainwashed demonized murderers. We search deep inside our minds for a solution that will put an end to the collective fear and restore order. Possible solutions or quick fixes are easy to find on any news channel or blog post, and opinions vary depending on one’s cultural or political background. But we live in the most divisive time in recent memory. One person’s solution is offensive to another. This disunity exposes our weakness and again the headlines read, “Terrorist attack!” Which city is next?
But when the rhetoric ends and the voices of both corporate and social media — along with political leaders and political hopefuls — fade, we are left to our own thoughts. Many times, we accept begrudgingly the horrifying complexity of a broken humanity and the contradictory, dysfunctional systems it continues to create. Instead of solutions, we are faced with more questions. As one continues to reflect upon the tragic events in Paris, and the unthinkable terrorist attacks over the past fifteen years, all solutions from a human perspective are short-lived in our minds. It is as if gravity itself pulls any lasting and authentic solutions into a black hole, ripping from us our hope of a peaceful prosperity. How do we make sense of a world that seems to be slipping into a reality in which terrorism is normal?
As Christians, we know right from wrong. As Christians, we know the end of the story. As Christians, we are to rise above these worldly sorrows because we realize that these events are the result of a cursed world, and that we are only saved because of the work of Jesus Christ. But the juxtaposition of our faith in Christ with the reality of what we are experiencing in the world is gut-wrenching, and often so very confusing.
Eighty-nine of the people who were killed during the terrorist attacks were watching a rock concert at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris. Someone in the crowd captured the rock band’s response to the gunfire, and we notice the drummer dive to the ground in fear for his life, and the guitarist standing for a moment in shock before taking shelter. Another camera, in an alley beside the theatre, reveals dozens of people leaving from what seemed to be an emergency exit while gunshots and explosions are heard coming from the inside. Seconds later, people are seen dragging out lifeless victims covered in blood. One can see a man hopping on one leg, as he flees for his life — obviously in agonizing pain — while looking over his shoulder in fear that he is being pursued by these monsters. A few more seconds pass and, on the small road in the narrow alley behind the famous Bataclan Theatre, the camera captures dark blood stains continuing to expand in every direction covering the alley. I say to myself, “this is real,” and my mind processes this new reality one frame at a time.
“This is the new normal,” I whisper to myself.
I think of my wife, my kids, and my church. My mind begins to race with anxiety and fear, realizing all the while that I am not supposed to respond like this. “I’m a child of God, what’s wrong with me?”
Friends, I need a preacher.
Here in the Southern parts of the United States, pastors are often referred to as “Preacher man,” or sometimes simplified to just “Preacher.” I believe that the office of pastor is a high calling. The pastor is not only responsible for sheep, but must also confront evil head on. The commitment and price one pays to live the life of a pastor is high, but a pastor must be willing to stand up for what is right, and declare the name of Jesus Christ even when our faith is shaken to its foundations. We live in a day when men and woman are ashamed of the Gospel, living as spiritual cowards. A pastor must see through the political correctness of society and be able to identify the real enemy, and remind us of our only champion — Jesus Christ. The pastor does this in such a way that the forefront of his message is always the Gospel of Christ, and yet the pastor must be willing to face the public and private consequences for not mincing words, and for taking a stand against evil. We need fewer politicians, but more preachers.
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. ~ Romans 10:14-17
I need a preacher. You need a preacher. Preachers aren’t perfect, but they are called to declare a bold message. This nation needs a preacher, and every place where there are human beings on this planet needs a preacher. We need a preacher to declare the mighty and powerful truth that is the Word of God. We need the preacher who stands up when the darkness of evil, pain, and hopelessness begins encamping about the church to remind us of our place in Christ, our hope in Christ, and our future in Christ. Even preachers need a preacher. I need a preacher.
In the 10th chapter of Acts, Peter enters the house of Cornelius who greets Peter with honor by bowing to him. But Peter explains to Cornelius that he’s just a man. Cornelius honors this man of God the only way he knows how. He needed a preacher. Cornelius was given a Word of the Lord, and God knew Cornelius, but Cornelius needed a preacher to lead him and his house through the process of being connected to the church through the baptism of the Holy Ghost. As Peter began to preach, the Holy Ghost filled the place. Cornelius needed a preacher.
There are more people who need to hear about Jesus Christ, and know His blessings and eternal life. Here in America, the entire political structure is a mess. We no longer know who to believe. Politicians lie, and the media lies more. Some of the first posts on YouTube after the Paris attacks were posted by people who believed that the entire Paris event was staged, also known as a “black flag operation.” We call them conspiracy theorists, or tinfoil hat-wearing fools. Yet, some of the most popular YouTube channels with millions of subscribers state that nothing we see in the news is actually real, and we’re all being manipulated by the media. People have invented conspiracy theories for a long time. Twenty years ago the world would have considered these ideas silly, but now millions of people no longer believe their government’s official statements, even concerning these gruesome terrorist attacks. Over the past three years, millions and millions of people are no longer watching news from network news channels or websites. They watch self-proclaiming “truth-experts” claiming to know what’s really going on in the world. While there are some valuable independent news sources online, including insightful YouTube channels, isn’t it strange to anyone that anti-Semitism has come to dominate independent YouTube news from all over the world? We need a preacher.
The church isn’t much better. While churches are caving to social pressure to accept that which is ungodly, other churches who are preaching against sin are considered fanatics. We need a preacher to remind us that there is a standard. We need a preacher to remind us that we can “do all things through Christ who strengthens us.” (Philippians 4:13)
When the tidal wave of despair raced across the Atlantic carrying the news of hostages, explosions, and the cries of children, I needed a preacher. We all needed a preacher, and for many in this moment of sadness we share with our brothers and sisters in France, one such preacher is Dr. Robert Jeffress, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX.
Dr. Jeffress first acknowledged from his pulpit in Dallas that our hearts and prayers should focus on the victims of the tragic event in Paris, but he didn’t stop there. Dr. Jeffress said…
“I believe it is time to put aside political correctness.”
As a Holy Ghost filled man of God, Dr. Jeffress stated that political correctness is hindering truth, and that it is the leading contributor to normalizing bloodshed and violence. Then, pointing his finger and looking straight into the camera, with no regard for his or his family’s safety, Dr. Jeffress — the preacher — identified the problem with no apology: “The evil religion of radical Islam.”
How could he declare this? How could he be so bold?
Because he knew someone needed to tell the truth. He knew we needed a preacher. I needed a preacher.
If Dr. Jeffress stopped after blaming a particular religion, then he is nothing more than a religious figure, and in today’s paradigm, one could also assume that he is a pseudo-political figure, simply stating ideas from his perspective. In other words, there are Buddhists who dislike radical Islam, and there are Muslims that hate radical Islam. But Dr. Jeffress does not stop by blaming a religion. Dr. Jeffress declares that the Islamic religion is not an alternate way to God, but rather it is a Satanic campaign. Dr. Jeffress does this by comparing Jesus’ statements concerning Satan to the terrorists that attacked Paris and their agenda, demonstrating the similarities between the Islamic agenda and Satan’s agenda….
The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy. ~ John 10:10
Dr. Jeffress identifies the Islamic belief structure as the culprit of terrorism, and speaking through the webs of lies and deceit spun by a politically correct media, he addressed the truth about what is actuallyin the Quran, rather than the lies that are made up about the Quran. Dr. Jeffress does so by comparing the New Testament to the Quran, reminding us that nowhere in the New Testament are Christians told to kill other people, while Muslims are instructed to kill infidels in at least thirty-five places in the Quran. Then Dr. Jeffress compares Mohammed to Christ, and in doing so, the Gospel of Jesus Christ begins to unfold in his message. The preacher always points us to Christ, not his own agenda or personal crusade. The preacher always reminds us of God’s truth when we are surrounded by humanity’s lies. Dr. Jeffress is a preacher for when I need a preacher, when the world needs a preacher, and when our country needs a preacher.
Yes, nations need a preacher too. Dr. Jeffress makes it clear that nations have a different set of responsibilities than the individual. “Government is never called upon to turn the other cheek,” Dr. Jeffress preached. “The government, according to the Word of God, is to protect its citizens.” France needs a preacher. We need a preacher.
When a man or woman is on death’s bed, they often cry out for the preacher. Drug addicts, thieves, and murderers need preachers. But your neighbor needs a preacher as well. The clerk in the store you visit almost daily needs a preacher. Your barber needs a preacher, and your doctor and lawyer need a preacher. Is God speaking to your heart? Not only do you need a preacher, but there are times you need to be the preacher. You need to be able to carry on the good fight when those around you are in despair. There are times you need to be the first hand someone shakes when they enter church for the first time, Better yet, maybe they are shaking your hand as your enter their home to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the first time.
While we do not know what tomorrow will bring, we know that we need Christ for every breath of hope we aspire to obtain, and we need a preacher pointing us to Christ, reminding us of our blessed hope. I know that right now in this very second, there is a preacher somewhere in France who may feel forgotten, and that the whole ministry has been a joke. If that is you, you need to know that you were born for such a time as this! You need to stand up and declare…
Il ya de l’espoir dans le Christ Jésus.
I declare revival to come forth in every corner of France from the ashes of this horrendous tragedy.
I believe and declare that it will begin with a preacher.
Vive La France!