Thursday, September 30, 2010

Will We Display the Gospel When We Disagree?

This may come as a shock to some, but on rare occasions Baptists disagree with one another. Actually, I know that news will not shock any of you, because Baptists might be equally known for our disagreements as we are our agreements. What I wonder is will we display the Gospel even when we argue? Will our love for one another be evident in our rhetoric and actions so that even in times of discord others might still see that we are disciples of Christ? Of course, a more fundamental question is "Do we love one another?"

The reason I'm writing this is because there is disagreement in our ranks. It seems state conventions feel our national entities are taking adversarial positions against their work and vice versa. There are those who are excited about the election of the new NAMB president and others that are bewildered. There are those that are rallying support for the Cooperative Program like never before yet find themselves uncertain if the SBC is actually going to Cooperate with one another. As a young (is 33 still young?) Southern Baptist, I find myself today uncertain about a few things, but certain of much more.

With regard to uncertainty, I am not sure what's going to happen with our convention. Currently I'm not even certain what's going to happen with our association. I'm also uncertain if the "fighting" in the SBC is going to shift (as one of my good friends believes) from conservative vs. liberal to cooperative program vs. great commission giving. I pray not. I believe both-and is the better answer than either-or with regard to giving. I agree with our state director, David Hankins, in that the largest problem is not the LBC or the SBC, but the hearts of our people and churches. If we truly treasured Christ our priorities would be radically (to borrow a word from another friend) different and giving would not be an issue on any level. I pray that I might set an example for our people.

Now to what I am certain of: 1). We are not to be anxious about anything. I feel across the board there is much anxiety and worry. Jesus reminds me that I can't add a single hour to my life, so I should trust Him in all things. 2). God will build His Church. No matter what happens with BAGBR, LBC, and SBC, God's Church will continue to increase and spread. So certain is Jesus of the Church's advancement that He tells us that the even the gates of hell will not prevail against His Bride. 3). The Kingdom of God will not be shaken. It's funny how many personal kingdoms can be set up all with the notion of building the Lord's Kingdom. I'm not pointing any fingers here except to the one Kingdom that will remain. The Lord's. His Kingdom is not one degree closer to being shaken and will never be for all eternity. What a mighty Savior! 4). The Gospel of Christ is the only hope for this world. There is no other means of reconciliation between God and man because there has been no other means of substitutionary atonement. Christ is the hope for the world. The more we meditate on the cross the more we will love God passionately and others rightly, which gets me to my final certainty . . .

5). Even in our disagreements we are to display Christ. In Gal. 6:10, Paul reminds us: "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." As Baptists there will always be something for us to disagree about, but in our disagreement let us strive to do good to everyone. We are to especially to do good to our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are family. Remember?

In the end, all the resolutions (and blog posts) in the world will not change the hearts of men. Only God changes hearts. So I pray that we will be a denomination that is devoted to prayer (Col. 4:2) and does so without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). I will be praying Gal. 6:10 for all of our interactions. May we be a Gospel witness even in our disagreement.