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Reading is one of my hobbies. I especially love to read God’s Word, the Bible, and also enjoy reading other material. But I’m not an avid blog reader, even though my son is a “professional” blogger. Blogs seem to either unite or agitate an audience.

Recent murders of bloggers in Bangladesh stagger my mind when I think of the freedom we have in this country to express our feelings about a number of subjects, including religion, without the fear of retribution, much less loss of life.

Freedom is the cornerstone of the United States — my adopted country. Growing up in Panama, I remember the fear of forgetting one’s cedula (identification/voting card), which listed your voting record by year. If you were stopped by the Guardia Nacional (National Guard), you could be assured of being asked for your card. For not voting in elections, officers could either issue a ticket or make an arrest.

I still remember the chaos in the streets while we were confined to our apartment during a military coup. It was a frightening time, which American-born citizens have never had to endure. I mention these experiences because they speak to the issues of freedom and engaging culture.

Recently I received a copy of the book, “Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel,” by Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. His premise is that now, in shifting times, Christians don’t need a doubling-down on the status quo nor pulling back into isolationism.

Instead, Moore contends we need a church that speaks to social and political issues with a bigger vision in mind: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

There is a great need to engage the culture as the Bangladeshi bloggers did. At times I find Christians “heading for cover” because “it’s almost over.”

I have a very dear friend from my youth who is a prolific writer, who recently wrote that he knows for certain Christ will return and the world will end in 2015. My instruction manual, the Bible, says, “Now concerning that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in Heaven, nor the Son — except the Father” (Mark 13:32).

Our passion as California Southern Baptists should continue to be every man, woman, boy and girl hearing and responding to the gospel. Following the headlines and news of this world will not fulfill the task. Each of us needs to be the light in our homes and communities.

Our primary mission field is where we live — California. Let’s engage our culture by committing to be the light shining in dark communities.


Last Published: May 28, 2015 1:08 AM