KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–As Danny Akin exhorted the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary chapel audience Sept. 7 to express God’s love in the world, thousands of Southern Baptist volunteers were simultaneously living out the admonition by aiding Hurricane Katrina victims in the Gulf states.
During the service, Midwestern President R. Philip Roberts recognized two Katrina survivors, Leavell College student Benjamin Dalman and his wife, Krystal, who lost most of their earthly belongings in the hurricane. Leavell College is the undergraduate school of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
The Dalmans lived about 2.5 miles from the seminary’s campus and evacuated New Orleans on Saturday, Aug. 27, before Katrina hit. They learned of the subsequent flooding as they watched television news intently at a family home in Illinois.
Dalman said they left New Orleans with a suitcase, a car and a computer, thinking they would return in a week or two after the storm blew through. He said they have since heard that their second-level apartment was flooded.
Roberts said Dalman will still be considered a student of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and all tuition and fees collected from him will be forwarded to Midwestern as he resumes classes there.
“Midwestern will consider them temporary students, but also honored guests,” Roberts said.
Roberts announced that a collection was being taken for both New Orleans seminary and the Dalmans and asked the audience to participate with him in giving.
Stepping to the pulpit, Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, commended Southern Baptist relief efforts that demonstrate the love of Christ to a hurting world. He challenged the audience to live out the kind of love shown by relief efforts and gave three aspects of “excellent love” found in 1 Corinthians 13. He said excellent love is essential, expressive and enduring.
“When people know you love them, they will value your words. They will listen to what you say,” Akin said. “If they don’t believe that you love them, regardless of how eloquent your words are, it will count for nothing.”
“If love doesn’t temper your knowledge, as God reckons things, you are nothing,” he said.
According to Akin, when believers temper their knowledge with God’s love, it will prevent the conceit that Paul rebukes in 1 Corinthians 8. Such love is selfless and builds others up, he said.
The second aspect of excellent love is found in how it is expressed.
Akin spoke of the 16 characteristics of love found in the passage and how they are in the active present tense, meaning love is a continual expression from the heart. He said one of the major components of godly love is that it is longsuffering and that God wants to teach believers to love more like Him through longsuffering.
“God must bring people into your life to make you suffer long,” he said. “Now you understand why God has brought difficult people into your life because God is committed to making you and I a long suffering kind of person.”
Akin further expressed that God’s love hates sin and rejoices in His perfect will. He said this love also has an optimistic nature that can face the worst of situations.
“Love never quits. It never throws in the towel or drops out of the race. It never says, ‘That is it!'”
Akin said despite the disheartening actions of looters in New Orleans, it hasn’t dampened his faith that God can break the chains of sin and wickedness.
As Akin closed by sharing how love is enduring, he said Scripture says there is a time when all things will pass away but that love will endure all things and never fade away.
“God is love and just like the Energizer bunny it will keep going and going and going,” he said. “It will never fail and it will never end. It is the very nature of God and it is the mark by which the world will know that you and I are His disciples.
“Therefore, the greatest of all things, love will endure.”