Moore: Weakness and irrelevance could save your life
Russell Moore thinks loneliness can save your life. Weakness and irrelevance, too. He explained this to a filled Alumni Memorial Chapel at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary during a March 20 chapel service.
Moore, who is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, preached a chapel sermon from 1 Kings 19:1-19. In this passage, the prophet Elijah finds himself a fugitive from the people whose God he just defended. Moore suggested that Christians should view Elijah’s isolation — his loneliness, weakness and irrelevance — immediately following his confrontation with the prophets of Baal as paradigmatic for life of following Jesus Christ.
“The pattern here is not unusual,” Moore said. “The pattern is the pattern that will belong in some way to everyone who seeks to follow Jesus Christ. Because Jesus tells us, ‘If you try to hold on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life, you will find it.’ When you find and live a life of conviction, that is not about winning arguments, that is not about demonstrating power. Often it is about loneliness and weakness and irrelevance.”
Based on this, Moore, who earned his doctorate from Southern Seminary in 2002, argued that the end result of ministry in service of Jesus Christ will often look like failure. This reality, he said, is the “way of the cross” — a way in which faithfulness often conflicts with cultural influence or powers.
“Everyone will have to choose between the pursuit of power and fidelity to God,” he said.
Moore said: “There will be times when you will wonder, ‘Why in the world did I sign up for this? Why in the world am I speaking to a culture like this one? Why in the world — when my family thinks I’m crazy for going to seminary, when my community thinks I’m crazy for saying Jesus Christ is the only way to the father — am I here?’ If you will listen to the thinnest sound of silence, you will hear the words that your heard in the beginning: Come follow me.”
Prior to leading the ERLC, Moore served Southern Seminary as senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the School of Theology from 2004 to 2013. He also taught systematic theology and ethics.
Introducing Moore, Southern Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. said: “We have the privilege this morning of having one of our own in this pulpit,” said Mohler, who was Moore’s doctoral supervisor when Moore was a student. “I’ve known Russ Moore now for decades; I dare say I’ve not him for the majority of his life and a significant portion of my own. You know him because you know of his leadership, you know of his voice, you know of his preaching, you know of his insight, you know of his courage, you know his of his conviction. … But I’m particularly thankful for Russ Moore as friend and colleague.”
Video of Moore’s sermon, “Convicted Without Baal: How Loneliness, Weakness, and Irrelevance Can Save Your Life,” is available in full at equip.sbts.edu.