Today is the big day—the SBC’s 2018 annual meeting is upon us. Well, technically, the pastor’s conference is upon us. The business meeting starts tomorrow. Nevertheless, this is why I’m in Dallas, and why almost every hotel is at maximum capacity.
Leading up to this week, there’s been no shortage of heartache and controversy. I don’t have a long history with the SBC. I don’t have the heritage that many of my friends and colleagues do. Even so, the events that have unfolded over the last several months have weighed heavily on me. So as we convene, here is my hope for the days ahead: That we would remember that we really are one people in Christ.
The events of recent months risk dividing us at a time when we must be anything but. The broader culture is increasingly fragmented, socially and politically, and it is having an effect on us as believers. But this should never be. Without suggesting for even a moment that theology is unimportant, we cannot forget that the call to unity within the church.
We’re united to one another, dependent upon each other in the body and on Christ as the head of the body. We’re united with Christ, just as a husband and wife are united in marriage (Eph. 5:22-23). We’re united with God and one another as the Spirit dwells within us, all of us having the same Spirit (1 Cor. 12:11). We are united in our calling as a “royal priesthood” and in our access to the Father through the Son (1 Pet. 2:9). But in our unity, we also see the embrace of diversity.
We are the body, but every part of the body plays a different role… We all have the same Spirit, but the gifts He gives to each of us are unique to His purposes for us… We are diverse people united as one people in Christ, is what allows the church’s mission to make disciples to flourish. All of us are equally empowered for the task. All of us share the same Spirit’s inexhaustible power. All of us have the same gospel to proclaim. But we are all called to do so in different contexts and with different gifts to meet the needs of the time and place in which God has called us to make disciples.1
This is what I hope that we’ll see as we go about the business of the annual meeting together, as we fellowship together, and as we hear the Word of God proclaimed together. We hold many different views on a number of issues, and we should wrestle through those together. But I pray we do so in such a way that refuses to threaten the unity Christ calls us to.
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