I wonder what name our Lord and Savior would give to the Southern Baptist Convention? I’ve spent a lot of time in recent years studying and teaching from Revelation 2 and 3, the seven letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor. I’m going to give you my opinion, and you can take it for what it is worth. As I look at the SBC, the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2 comes to mind. Would Jesus call us the “Ephesus Baptist Convention?”
Jesus described the church at Ephesus in very complimentary terms in verses 2-3.
I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.
They were a hard-working fellowship who toiled and endured in the service of God. C’mon, people, give us our due. SBCers are the spiritual descendants of Jesus’ friend Martha who wore herself out in service to the Lord while resenting her proto-charismatic sister Mary. We’re a working bunch. And we are careful in our orthodoxy, something that the Ephesians were commended for. They tested those who claimed to represent God and identified those who were false. They refused to compromise the truth and did not grow weary in serving their Savior.
But Jesus had a problem with them (v4).
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
Have we abandoned our first love? Has our passion for Jesus and his Kingdom waned as we have become embroiled in petty conflicts over minor doctrines, as we have invested more (both as churches and as people) in the pleasures of this world than in the mission of the Kingdom, as we have conformed to the world and its ways more than we have been transformed by the power of Christ, and as we have sought our own glory instead of his.
Jesus Christ demands to he the primary focus and passion of our hearts. He will not accept second place and will not share first place. He is a jealous God!
That’s my opinion. The SBC may have organizational issues, perception issues, strategic issues. But I am convinced that what we really need more than anything else is to:
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the works you did at first.
No, I’m not talking about some kind of silly nostalgic notion of doing everything like the SBC used to do it. That ship has sailed. We do not need to return our old ways.
We need to return to a consuming passion for Christ and his Kingdom. We can argue all day over the GCR recommendations and their implementation. We can discuss the efficacy of a name change. We can talk about new strategies and new ministries. But until we return to our first love for Jesus Christ individually, as churches and as a denomination, nothing is really going to matter.
That’s how I see it. What say you?