Here I Stand with Grace Baptist Church
This afternoon the news broke that a large sex-trafficking sting took place in Knoxville, Tn. Thirty-two different people were arrested as a result of this undercover sting. At first this seemed to be something that we should all be rejoicing over. The difficulty arose when the news released information that one of those involved in this sting was a ‘Children’s Director’ at Grace Baptist Church in Karns. Grace Baptist Church is one of the largest congregations in Knoxville. Grace also has a private Christian school (K-12) that meets on their campus: Grace Christian Academy. Some naturally, seeking to discredit this church, will use this as an opportunity to slander this congregation and their staff. While the secular community begins to gather their rhetorical stones and prep their negative caricatures for battle, I want to beg you to heed the line in the sand.
Grace Baptist has a strong tradition of biblical and gospel faithfulness. Grace also has a history of raising men and women up for Christian ministry and missions. Furthermore, both Grace’s church and school are known for coming alongside parents with the goal of shepherding up children in the Lord. What else do we know about this congregation? Grace requires background checks for all those who will be working with children in some capacity. You may be starting to think that I have a dog in this fight. Am I a member of Grace Baptist church? Do I have a child that goes to Grace Christian Academy? Am I an alumni of their school? No, none of these apply to me. Why then do I find it necessary to stand up in their defense? To understand my heart for this church, it may be best to see it from the pen of the Apostle Paul.
Many of you have heard Ephesians 5:25-33 read at a wedding. If you have ever been to a Christian wedding, it is almost inevitable that this is the case. In this passage Paul says,
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Paul tells husbands that the example for how they should love their wives is Christ and his love for the church. Only a few verses prior to this Paul calls these believers to “be imitators of God.” Paul’s says that if you want to be like Christ, then love the church. Give up your life by loving and serving the church. When news like this breaks, your heart as well as my heart should hurt for the congregation. Do not use this as an excuse or justification to slander this congregation. “Weep with those who are weeping.” Allow this to be an opportunity for you to join with this congregation in prayer as they try to recover from this tragedy.
No less significant, join in prayer for all the people and families impacted by sex-trafficking. May this tragedy cause our community to see that sex-trafficking is a real issue, impacting real people in the Knoxville community. This issue can no longer be viewed as that “thing we saw on the Taken movie.” Rather than driving all your attention at this church, stop the traffic, and lets join together and fight this terrible crime. Heed the advice from another Liam Neison film, where he plays Aslan the Christ-figure in Chronicles of Narnia, “My son, my son, I know. grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another.” Let us stand together with this church, but let us also fight the traffic.