Rev. Samuel Rodriguez: The Connection Between Obedience and Service
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“We need to pray for a spiritual awakening,” reveals Rev. Rodriguez. In lieu of recent events (Boston marathon bombing), America is in the midst of pain and suffering. A spiritual awakening could facilitate a platform for peace. Believers need to be in communion with God through prayer because prayer is the catalyst that will usher in a spiritual awakening. Since 9/11 America has lived under a “hint of dread.” The good news is we have a Sovereign God in the midst of it all that we can turn to for peace and justice.
Rev. Rodriguez believes America needs to be reintroduced to not just any god, but to the living God, a living gospel in a living church. “When we reveal who God is in our life, God reveals to us our true identity,” says Rev. Rodriguez. Typically, he says we get it all backward. We are inclined to pray, “If you fix my life, if you fill my life, then I will serve You.” Instead, Rev. Rodriguez says, “We should follow Him, call upon Him, grab hold of Him, then He will reveal our true purpose. We can live out the Agenda of the Lamb, but we must reintroduce Jesus to America. It is time to stop praying for God to come down and to start telling the church to rise up.”
AGENDA OF THE LAMB
One institution will always live: the church of Christ. The Agenda of the Lamb can only succeed when the Christ-centered, Bible believing church leads the way. Today we face at least four major threats to Christianity in America:
- Moral relativism - When those who do not know Christ struggle to find some understanding of truth, some way of reasoning between right and wrong.
- Spiritual apathy - Is defined as a loss of enthusiasm for the spiritual life.
- Cultural decadence - We live in a world where people are bound by pornography, sexual compulsion, alcohol and depression. Christians carry the antidote to moral relativism, spiritual apathy, and cultural decadence. The antidote is nothing less than the Lamb’s agenda.
Ecclesiastical indifference (the reigning spirit of the lukewarm church) - The lukewarm church poses the greatest danger to the Christian because it lacks the moral authority to speak truth to power. Lukewarm Christians survive by blinding themselves to what the culture is saying.
- The Agenda of the Lamb reconciles both the vertical and horizontal elements of the cross, a platform of righteousness and justice. The cross is both vertical and horizontal. Vertically, we stand connected to God, his kingdom, eternal life, spiritual truths, divine principles, and glory. Horizontally, to our left and to our right, we exist surrounded and revealed through community, relationships, family, culture, and society. The nexus is the strongest part of the cross, the intersection of righteousness and justice.
RIGHTOUSNESS AND JUSTICE
Rev. Rodriguez was born into a Christian home, but his parents were not preachers or ministers. “When I was 14 years old, I had my epiphany, my Damascus moment one Sunday evening. He remembers watching a Billy Graham crusade and then a special on Dr. Martin Luther King. Afterwards he felt as though his life’s mission statement could write itself: reconcile the salvation message preached by Billy Graham with the justice message of Dr. King. At first, he ignored the call to preach. Instead, he wanted to be a computer engineer and live the American dream of affluence. He didn’t tell anyone about his “Damascus moment” but strange things began to happen. The guest speaker at his church, who was there for the first time, was singing a song with the worship team. He stopped the music and said, “There is a Samuel in here.” That day he was the only Samuel in the service and everyone pointed at him. The speaker had a Word from God for Samuel that God would place him on a platform. It was going to be for God’s glory and He had a great destiny for him. God said Samuel would touch many lives and help heal people of their physical, spiritual, and emotional ailments. He was going to be used to restore lives, broken dreams, and to inspire people. Also, God was going to make him a leader among his people. Though Rev. Rodriguez began preaching at fourteen, he didn’t understand God’s Kingdom principles until later. When he did discover them, his life changed. Rev. Rodriguez’s father shared with him that before Samuel was born, a visiting speaker gave a prophecy to his father that out of his loins would come a voice that God would send for His glory. Rev. Rodriguez’s father didn’t understand that prophecy until he saw his son speak for the first time.
To this day, Rev. Rodriguez considers Billy Graham and Dr. King to be the two most influential figures in his personal journey that helped shape his theological framework and serve as his leadership role models. Billy Graham (Vertical movement) led an evangelical movement that changed the face of Christianity. Rev. Rodriguez says Billy’s commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ allowed him to create an infrastructure and the leadership apparatus to sustain a movement. His success can be measured not only by what he preached and organized, but also by the actions he never took. He never changed his message to accommodate the changing times; he never sacrificed the truth and he never compromised personal integrity. Dr. King (Horizontal movement) had the gift of speaking the dream. He knew in order to overcome segregation he had to use language that spoke not just to the intellect, but to the living, breathing soul of man. He spoke the language of deliverance and freedom. He engaged in prophetic activism. America needs a generation that is committed to marrying Billy’s evangelistic message with the prophetic activism of Dr. King. “We followers of the Lamb’s Agenda must never again stand on the sidelines as injustice subverts our nation and our church. Never again can we hide under the cloak of political correctness. Never again can we ignore the plight of the suffering, the persecuted, and the marginalized,” shares Rev. Rodriguez.
In 2001, state wide and regional conferences united the statewide associations of Hispanic evangelicals and merged with the Alianza Ministerial Evangelical National or A.M.E.N to formally present a national voice on behalf of the Hispanic Evangelical Church called NHCLC. Today, A.M.E.N is the leadership arm of the NHCLC which exists to unify, serve and represent the Hispanic Evangelical Community with the divine (vertical) and human (horizontal) elements of the Christian message. Rev. Rodriguez articulated the vision for the NHCLC in a conference at Yale University. "For that matter, we stand committed to reconciling the vertical and horizontal elements of the Christian Cross. A Cross that is Covenant and Community, Salvation and Transformation, Righteousness and Justice, and Matthew 25, Billy Graham and Dr. Martin Luther King. Together we can defend biblical truth, edify a firewall of righteousness and justice in this generation while simultaneously ushering in a New Awakening in the Name of Christ".
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