Monday, February 12, 2007

A Word from the Field

In the midst of all of our discussions, debates, and even arguments over doctrinal parameters and policies in the Southern Baptist Convention, let us not forget that our words, our tone, and the decisions that are made are affecting the work and the morale of our missionaries. Listen to this statement from Nomad, a missionary serving with the IMB in the 10/40 window:

I can't help but to be discouraged to be overseas and know that my supporters are at odds with one another over things that mostly likely don't have an eternal significance. The very people who are supposed to be praying, giving, and participating, are instead spending all of their time arguing. Looks like Satan has pulled one over on us and is making us think this "stuff" is more important than seeing a lost world reconciled to God. May God have mercy on us!
Let us all remember that, no matter what side of these issues we may find ourselves on, the reason the SBC exists is to support missions work cooperatively through our prayers, our giving, and our service. We do not have to agree on every jot and tittle in order to cooperate. Is doctrine important? Absolutely! Are there points of doctrine that we must take an uncompromising stance on in order to be faithful to the gospel? Certainly! Are there points of doctrine that are not worth arguing over if such arguing hinders our cooperation in missions? You'd better believe it!

Now I'm enough of a realist to understand that we will not all agree on which doctrines belong in which category, but I strongly urge all of us to ask ourselves the following question about each doctrinal issue under discussion: Would I be comfortable standing before God and telling Him that I worked to keep someone off the mission field (or made their journey to the field more difficult) on the basis of this point of doctrine?

I'm also enough of an idealist to believe that we who claim to be born again can discuss, debate, and disagree in a manner that does not hurt the morale of our missionaries or, even worse, bring reproach on the name of Christ in the eyes of the world. While there are occasions where it is necessary to rebuke a fellow believer, most of the personal statements that are being made in these discussions are not biblical rebukes; they are character attacks, which may be the norm for politics inside the Beltway but have no place in the Kingdom of God. I would guess that it is the tone of our discussions, more so than the content, that is causing so much of the discouragement and disillusionment we are beginning to see among our missionaries and missional minded Southern Baptists. Let the discussion continue, but let's make sure that both what we say and how we say it reflect the One to whom we belong.


Nomad said...

You hit the nail on the head. It isn't that we are discussing or even arguing over these issues; it is the manner in which it is being done.

Healthy discussion, disagreement, and dissent is not bad. As long as it is done in a Christ-like manner. When we result to being little boys on the playground or big bullies in the boy's locker room, that's where we allow Satan the upper hand. It is like we are handing our reputation and character to him on a silver platter.

Thanks for expounding on this.

GuyMuse said...

Again you get right to the heart of the matter with a few select words. Almost daily I see N. America's Christian influence on the rest of Christendom dwindling as we go round and round thinking one another the enemy, rather than the one who is truly behind all the distraction--Satan himself.