By Byron Day, BCM/D President and Pastor of Emmanuel Church, Laurel, MD
In recent years, we have seen an ever-increasing rise in lawsuits. We live in a day and age where people sue one another over the least little thing. Moreover, we are encouraged by the legal community to examine every aspect of our lives to determine if our present condition was caused by the negligence of someone else. Therefore, we are called to question if the doctor did something during that surgery that causes us discomfort, if our dentist was negligent, or whether McDonald’s got the coffee too hot.
We hear of all types of lawsuits; disputes over inheritances, over free agency, over land, over patents and over songs. Perhaps the clearest indication of our society’s thirst for litigation is the number of televisions shows dedicated to displaying for us our inability to settle the most minor disputes.
We have people’s court, divorce court, and even animal court. We have Judge Hatchett, Judge Brown, Judge Judy and Judge Mathis. My casual observance of these shows has often revealed that the dispute is minor in nature and that they usually involve family members, mothers against sons, fathers against daughters, brothers against sisters.
This reminds me of the situation in the church at Corinth. The members of that church had trouble settling disputes among themselves (1 Cor. 6:1-11).
This text poses a question that our churches must ask today. What do we do when disputes arise in the family of God?
The upcoming convention in Orlando will give voice to a dispute among Southern Baptists, a dispute not about whether the great commission should be the central focus of all Southern Baptists but about how we go about fulfilling the great commission. Simply stated we are at odds over the best allocation of resources that will provide the best opportunity of fulfilling the Great Commission. I am hopeful that we will not allow this minor dispute to hinder us from working together. I am prayerful that we will recognize the strategy of the enemy of divide and conquer and continue cooperating together for the building up of the kingdom of God. The Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) vote in Orlando will not affect my church’s Cooperative Program giving; we will continue to support the Cooperative Program. Our level of giving will remain the same and our goal of increasing Cooperative Program giving will continue regardless of the outcome in Orlando.
My concern for Maryland/Delaware Baptist churches is that some might abandon cooperation if things do not go in their favor. The convention in June will provide plenty of opportunity for discussion and debate, but at the end of the day we must all determine not to let this issue divide us and to accept the outcome as the will of God (Prov. 16:33).
This is not a doctrinal issue and therefore does not warrant separation. I hope that we will consider the words of Jesus, “by this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” John 13:35.
Perhaps now more than ever the church should be “endeavoring (be diligent) to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (and to remember) there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all and in all” Eph. 4:3-6 [italics mine].