Somebody’s grandmother helped me to realize something recently. And it’s kinda funny, because she thought she was helping me realize something else, but when my over-analyzing nature connected the dots a long standing truth became clear as day: my poor little ego thrives on the victim mentality produced when somebody “hurts” me and other people come rushing on the scene to tell me I’ve been wronged and it will all be okay.
In other words my pride likes to live in division because if one person stands against me I know another will show up on the scene to pat my back and urge me on. And I like having my back patted.
Even more sadly I think that same twisted sense of ego is the problem with our “Southern Baptist Convention.” We are faced with blogs about how some are young and reformed while others are young and irrelevant and it blows up into this civil war of personalities divided across blogs and state papers.
Marginalized is the new word of the day because that’s how we want to make ourselves feel. So in this corner you have the Calvinists and in that corner the self-dubbed Biblicists. In this corner you have those who give over X% to the Cooperative Program and in that corner those who don’t. In this corner you have those who think drinking any alcohol is a sin and in that corner those who are okay with moderated and self-controlled use. In this corner are the clones of Rogers, Patterson, and Pressler, while in that corner the clones of Driscoll, Piper, and Mahaney. Shall we go on?
No wonder why not just a group but the convention as a whole is drifting towards irrelevance—we have by far lost our first love (and by that I mean Jesus, not the CP or the BF&M) and we all need to repent.
We forget that, yes, the Gospel divides but it divides unbelievers from believers. We forget that as believers the Gospel unites—not in some wishy-washy let’s all hold hands and sing kumbaya around the campfire type of union, but in a we’re sold out for Jesus so I will exhort and build you up, my brother, while you exhort and build me up type of union.
Will we remember to walk in a manner worthy of our calling so that out of humility, gentleness, and patience we bear with one another in love, and we remain eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace? Or will we sadly discover we don’t strive for such things because we have never tasted the Spirit in the first place. Props to Ephesians 4, btw.
If Christ truly dwells in us, we are part of a body, not a camp; we are part of a family, not a sect; and we are part of a holy priesthood, not a labeled group.
It’s time to refocus, because “there is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
And then in Philippians 4:8, we are told to think about the things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise.
So you Calvinists out there start thinking about what Jesus has made honorable and commendable in the non-Calvinists, and likewise you non-Calvinists do the same for the Calvinists. Those of you who would call “nominal” the ones who don’t meet your standard of CP giving think of what is excellent in those people, and you who have been called nominal reverse the field and do the same. If you hate Driscoll with a passion, think about what is excellent in your Acts 29 affiliated church planting brothers, and you A29er’s think about what is lovely in those who cling to NAMB and state conventions alone. Whatever your contemporary teetotaling Baptist identity divide is, so long as it is not the Gospel centerpiece, don’t dwell on the divide, it gets tiresome (note to self to remember this as well)…
…after all, there is far more at stake in this world than our precious egos. So how about this: let’s make the ego irrelevant and pride ourselves in exalting Jesus!
Now join hands. I think I hear kumbaya coming on