Loving our neighbors means showing compassion and care to those around us who are in need, particularly those whose backgrounds are different than our own.
“As Christ followers, we must be willing to love and be a neighbor to all people in their world regardless of any labels, including ethnicity or nationality, cultural, moral and religious differences,” said Milton A. Hollifield Jr., executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC). “We must ask ourselves, ‘Do I love Jesus enough to obey Him by getting involved with individuals in need?’”
Hollifield’s remarks came during his report to messengers on Monday, Nov. 5, at the conclusion of the first day of the BSC’s Annual Meeting at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, N.C.
During his address, Hollifield offered an answer to the question posed by the event theme, “Who Is My Neighbor?” which was derived from the parable of the good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37.
“The answer to that question, according to the lesson Jesus taught, is that anyone you know who is in need is your neighbor,” Hollifield said.
Hollifield cited several other scripture passages from both the Old and New Testaments to demonstrate that Christians are called to love their neighbors.
“The truth of this passage in Luke 10 is you cannot separate your relationship with God from your relationship with your neighbor,” Hollifield said.
Hollifield noted that different people may have different needs, but everyone has spiritual needs.
“Jesus cared about people in need, and he took time to show He cared,” Hollifield said.
Hollifield also challenged N.C. Baptists to focus on reversing the declines in evangelism and baptisms that are taking place in Southern Baptist churches across the country by encouraging them to have more “gospel conversations.”
Hollifield defined a gospel conversation as one in which a person tells someone about Christ and gives them an opportunity to accept His free gift of salvation.
“I challenge each of you to become more sensitive to people around you and find out if they know Christ as Savior,” Hollifield said,
Hollifield concluded his address by encouraging messengers to love their neighbors, help meet their needs, and lead them to establish a relationship with Christ and help them grow spiritually.
Hollifield also announced that the state convention will begin a formal evaluation of its strategy of “impacting lostness through disciple-making” that was approved by the BSC’s Board of Directors and messengers in 2013 and implemented beginning in January 2014.
The results of the evaluation will be presented to messengers at next year’s BSCNC Annual Meeting, scheduled for Nov. 11-12, 2019 in Greensboro, N.C.
Hollifield said the survey will involve two elements – a survey and personal interviews. Individuals wishing to participate in the survey or interviews are encouraged to share their interest with the state convention through a special email address at [email protected].