If you attempt to stay current and engaged with our Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) family, you know we experience great days together as well as challenging days. While our goal is to live a Christ-filled life, there are times when we become so influenced by the world, we become entrapped in the ways of our godless culture. When we do, it is not healthy.
Jesus said everyone will know we belong to Him when we love one another. When we are being filled with the Holy Spirit, our lives are to be marked with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
When we fall away from this kind of testimony to one another, to our churches, and to the people we need to reach, we lose influence with the very people God has called us to teach and reach with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
I am not looking for some kind of utopia on this side of heaven. However, I do expect us at least to have a zeal to be like Christ, a humility that defers to unity, and a passion to follow scripture in the way we relate to one another as a testimony to the world.
Since operating in this new calling at the SBC Executive Committee, I have found myself periodically having to apologize on our behalf to laypersons, pastors and Christian leaders. I have received their sincere questions from things like, “Can you not solve this?” to “What in the world is going on?”
I do know from my pastoral experience across four decades: This is no way to build a healthy church. I also know this is no way to build a healthy denomination.
What will it take for this to change? What will it take for us to come together for the greater good?
We need to realign our personal convictions, our vision, our relational conduct and our future to the Bible we believe.
This is part of living for Christ on this earth. It is so easy today to live downstream of the culture, leading us to act like the culture rather than live like Jesus Christ. They are not the same. When we walk with the Lord daily, our time with Him in His Word and in prayer is a time to realign ourselves to Him, His Word and His will for us.
In this season of Baptist life, I humbly request each of us try to come together and realign ourselves to the Bible individually and collectively. As a convention of more than 47,500 churches, we need to be a light to the nations and provide hope for America and the entire world.
My personal convictions should be guided by the Bible, not by the culture or convenience, and most certainly not by the theories of others which are in conflict with the Holy Scripture.
Our vision should be guided by the Bible, which calls us to make disciples of all the nations, not by the agenda of any group or the opinions of others.
Our relational conduct should live out the principles of the Bible, not the vain principles of this world that lead us to accuse one another, live in disunity, and be a poor testimony of our Lord who has called us to love one another.
Pride always leads to destruction. Humility is always a path to God.
Pride divides us. Humility unites us.
Our future together as a Convention needs to be driven by the Bible and Jesus’ command to give His Good News to the whole world.
Furthermore, when this Great Commission is the conversation in our churches, then we will know and desire partnership, cooperation, unity and love for one another.
This may not be the Baptist way at times, but it is always Jesus’ way. Let’s choose Jesus’ way and rise together for this moment in history.
Now is the time to lead.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ronnie Floyd is the president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention.)