This past week I attended the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville. It is an honor for me to get to serve in that capacity, though this meeting was anything but pleasurable. We had to deal with the sorrowful news that, due to the lack of gifts to our International Mission Board (IMB) an unprecedented 600-800 field personnel and IMB staff members can no longer be supported. It was difficult news at best… tragic at worst.
But it was the moment when Dr. Chuck Kelly, president of New Orleans Baptist seminary spoke that gripped me deeply. He was talking about the reality that one of our professors, who had been caught up in the Ashley Madison scandal, had apparently taken his own life. He had dealt for years with an addiction to pornography that had just come to the surface. He apparently took his own life in his family’s garage. When Dr. Kelly learned of this professor’s death, he went immediately with his wife to the home to visit with the bereaved family. He was met by a grieving widow who put her hands on Dr. Kelly’s shoulders, moved her face close to his, and with tears said “Please, please don’t let anyone else on this campus die because of pornography! We could have forgiven him… he didn’t have to die.”
I wonder if we even consider the reality that pornography, or any sin, leads ultimately to death. This occasion was one of more immediate consequence, as a grieving campus community filed past the body of a beloved teacher. The reality came home. “The wages of sin is death…” Romans warns us. People die because of sin. They die immediately spiritually, and eventually physically. But sin always kills those it takes captive. Only a Redeemer can come to set us free from an endless cycle of death- producing acts and bring freedom from sin’s chains.
And Jesus Christ is that Redeemer. But we must trust Him, not just once and move back to what we used to be. We must trust Him constantly if we are to truly and meaningfully be set free from our sin and from the resulting death it brings.
Might we plead the widow’s prayer to Dr. Kelly with our Savior: “Please, please don’t let anyone else on this campus…in this church…die because of sin!!”
And then may we join Christ in His redemptive mission on this planet in answer to that prayer.
“My chains are gone…I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me…”