SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) — Unity demands we accept one another in love. Unity requires work — hard work. Unity is an act of humility.
In a convention of over 51,000 churches and congregations, eleven national entities and our Executive Committee, forty-two state conventions, and more than 1,000 associations, unity does not happen without intentionality.
A brief look back
As a young pastor in seminary, I remember some of the beginning days of the conservative resurgence. These were very difficult and tumultuous times. When the movement was declared successful, most were hopeful we could enter into more peaceful days together as a convention.
Unknown to us then, we were entering one of our most challenging seasons as a convention of churches.
A present reality
Southern Baptists are no longer in a battle for the Bible, but in a battle with one another. The very soul of our convention is at stake.
Almost two years ago when I became president, I was determined I would do all I could to bring us together. I have given myself to this task, not just in words, but also in deed. I have gathered groups from all sizes of congregations, groups of church leaders and convention leaders, state leaders and national leaders, and members from different ethnicities and generations. Yet, we find ourselves in a continual struggle to come together in unity. Why?
Unquestionably, we are affected by the culture we live in today.
Narcissism and independence infects us just like it does others and challenges our paradigm of working together. Transition within our national entities and state conventions is occurring, and adjusting to change can be uncomfortable.
If this was not enough, America is in an election for the office of president of the United States. Way beyond the normal, opinions on the election are not just felt, but are being expressed publicly and demonstratively.
Each of these things, and so much more I could share, challenge the very soul of our unity together.
5 intentional actions for unity
The amazing thing through this season is we are still seeing so many wonderful things occurring. Yet, the threats relating to our unity are undeniable. If the enemy cannot destroy us from the outside, he will attack us from the inside.
I want to challenge each of us to take five intentional actions relating to unity within our convention:
1. Accept one another in love
None of us is alike. The Divine imprint upon us causes us to be unique. Unity is not uniformity, but intentionality. Unity will not happen without accepting one another in love.
God wants us to accept one another in love. We need to love people like Jesus does: willfully, sacrificially and unconditionally. None of this is possible without personal humility, gentleness of spirit, and patience with one another.
Accepting one another is holding on to each other, enduring our differences, and bearing up under the relationship to seeing it through and sustained for the glory of God. This takes the discipline of intentionality.
The next time you are challenged to love a brother or sister in Christ, ask God at that very moment, Lord, give me the power to love them willfully, sacrificially and unconditionally.
Read more at FLOYD: Unity is one of our greatest needs in SBC.