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FIRST-PERSON: United by truth

MADISONVILLE, Texas (BP) — As I look on in dismay at the convention I love, splintering and fragmenting, I cannot help but desire unity. This is why I have believed that we as Southern Baptists must pull together our resources for the sake of the Gospel based on our doctrinal commitment defined in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

But still it seems that this doctrinal statement is not sufficient. What then is the truth that unites us as Southern Baptists?

The reality is, we as a convention have lost our way in the midst of our pilgrimage. We have forgotten that this world is not our home. We need to be reminded that we are spiritual immigrants in a strange land. In our freedom, we have sacrificed more than just our lives, we have sacrificed our souls to preserve this ideal that can prove so empty.

Jesus said that if He would be lifted up, He would draw all men unto Himself (John 12:32). Yet, our Southern Baptist churches struggle to see the baptismal waters stirred. Why?

Could it be that we are too busy raising a flag instead of the cross? As our nation’s flag is raised, men and women from all over the world are drawn here, but what will they find? The American dream creates an insatiable appetite. People come hoping to find a better life, but still they hunger, still they thirst, still they grow tired and weak, and still they die. They sacrifice everything for America, but America can only provide so much. The freedom our country purveys is not the remedy that will liberate the enslaved souls this nation hosts and invites.

What truth then can unite us? Could it be that we are so concerned about pushing our political agendas and American ideals we believe to be Christian that we have forgotten altogether the nature of our mission? Yes, we need to interact with our country and influence our government in order to seek justice for all — the born and unborn alike. But no president will be able to bridge our racial divides, cure our health needs and eliminate our poverty hurts. Still, Jesus said, “If I be lifted up.”

You know why I love the Bible? Because the Bible is truth. The Bible tells me of Jesus. Jesus tells me He is truth (John 14:6).

In the Gospels I see Jesus moved with compassion offering His health care plan to the lepers, paralytic, blind, deaf and dead. I see Jesus demonstrate His economic development strategy with 12 baskets of food left over after a multitude has their hunger satisfied. I see Jesus judicially appointed to the cross, where He was crucified in order that justice would prevail. I see Jesus execute His military might when He was raised from the dead and enthroned in the heavens. There He sits as sin, death and the devil serve as His footstool. I see the ability of Jesus to unite all races together before His throne. I hear more than a campaign promise when He says that He is coming back for all who forsake the treasures of this world in order to follow the King of all creation.

I believe that we as Southern Baptists can be united like never before if we would turn back to the truth. Jesus is Lord, Caesar is not. Is this not why 46,000 churches pool their resources together through the Cooperative Program, so that Jesus might be lifted up, and that all people might hear His name and have the opportunity to receive new life?

We as Southern Baptists have been distracted long enough. We need to engage our community as Kingdom citizens residing in America. It is imperative that we live out Gospel-centered lives in order to influence our government and our culture. But let us not lose sight as to what unites us together — the truth.

The world is dying as God’s people squabble, and souls are lost to the flames of hell. If we must be angry, let it be with the devil. If we must fight, let it be against the darkness of this world. If we must be passionate, let it be about the Christ who came and is coming again. May we unite under the banner of the cross and may we unashamedly declare truth of Jesus.