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Reggie White challenges media, calls for unity among believers

ATLANTA (BP)–Future NFL Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White admonished the media to report more about people who recover from the homosexual lifestyle, while encouraging Southern Baptists to work with other Christians in a unified effort to reach hurting people.
White, the NFL’s all-time sack leader and an outspoken minister of the gospel, spoke for approximately 22 minutes during the Wednesday evening session of the June 15-16 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.
Before launching into a talk about unity among believers and suffering for Christ, White spoke directly to the media. He said he saw a story in a major daily newspaper Wednesday reporting that he and Jerry Falwell — who gave the benediction to close a convention session — have criticized the homosexual lifestyle.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I have never criticized the gay lifestyle. I’ve only proclaimed what Jesus Christ said,” White stated.
“In Leviticus 1 we read, ‘The Lord said to Moses.’ Now, let’s see what the Lord said to Moses. In Leviticus 18:22, ‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman.’”
White repeated the verse, then said, “For those of you in the media — ” and repeated it a third time.
“About three weeks ago a man came to me after I preached and said, ‘God brought me out of this lifestyle. Thanks for what you had the courage to say, because now I’m saved.’
“I want to say this to our media,” White said. “Why don’t you report more on the people who come out of it [the homosexual lifestyle]? Why don’t you give them any credit for their change? I have no problem with the way anyone wants to live, but when you try to push it on myself and on my children, I have to stand up.”
White’s remarks about homosexuality and the media were interrupted several times by applause before he said, “Now to my main message.”
He said Christians should be “ashamed of ourselves” for having so many denominations and sects. “Jesus prayed that we might be one in unity, as he and the Father are one. He also commanded us to love one another. One thing I see lacking in the church of Jesus Christ is that many of us don’t love each other; we don’t watch each other’s back.”
The former Super Bowl winner with the Green Bay Packers used an illustration from the football field. “If I see a black guy about to lay out our quarterback, Brett Favre, I’m going to lay him out first. It’s not about color on the football field.
“It’s amazing to me to see that in professional sports we can have one guy in a gang sitting on the bench next to a redneck, and they learn to get along and work for the same goals,” White said.
“If we could only learn the lessons that we see in many of our sports activities, we would make a better unit, because we’re fighting for the same goals. But the problem is, many of us don’t love each other.”
White stressed unmet needs in the inner cities, where he said the church often fails to penetrate. Referring to the rash of school shootings, he said, “All the kids who are doing this are white kids. Now it has become a national epidemic. People in the suburbs are wondering what’s going on.
“Let me tell you what’s going on,” White said. “These shootings have been going on in the inner city for years. When you allow cancer to start, it spreads. There are a lot of young people living in the cities that we’ve expressed no love toward. We must begin to express our love to our brothers.”
He said change cannot come by just sharing how people can be saved.
“We are not discipling,” he said. “We are called to make disciples.”
White suggested Christians do not reach the inner cities and do not disciple because they are afraid they may have to suffer in the process.
“We’re running from suffering,” he said, stressing Philippians 1:29, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.”
“When will we start loving Jesus enough that we will suffer shame for his name?” White asked. “Ladies and gentlemen, the world does not hate us, it hates him, because he convicts of sin. So when the world comes against us, they are not hating us, but they are hating God. So don’t feel offended.
“The love of early Christianity wasn’t limited to believers. Matthew 5:44 says, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,’” he noted.
White stressed all Christians need to work together to reach the lost and hurting. He cited the Green Bay Packers awarding Super Bowl rings not only to players but also to trainers, scouts, equipment managers and others. “If we come together with a common goal, with one mind, supporting and helping one another, we all will get a crown.”

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  • Victor Lee