Imagine what would happen if we all came together in unity under the banner of Christ. Pentecost all over again!
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:1-4
Cooperation among our churches is what makes us Southern Baptists. From the Baptist Faith & Message:
Christ’s people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner. Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ’s Kingdom. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.
Exodus 17:12; 18:17ff.; Judges 7:21; Ezra 1:3-4; 2:68-69; 5:14-15; Nehemiah 4; 8:1-5; Matthew 10:5-15; 20:1-16; 22:1-10; 28:19-20; Mark 2:3; Luke 10:1ff.; Acts 1:13-14; 2:1ff.; 4:31-37; 13:2-3; 15:1-35; 1 Corinthians 1:10-17; 3:5-15; 12; 2 Corinthians 8-9; Galatians 1:6-10; Ephesians 4:1-16; Philippians 1:15-18.
We are basically talking about getting along. One of the things that has hurt us the most is our propensity to segregate rather than look for ways to unite. I’ve talked about the target before, but it’s still the best analogy I know for cooperation among churches both in and out of the Southern Baptist Convention.
- The target, of course, is Jesus Himself.
- The first ring is our dogma: The truth of Jesus’ incarnation, immaculate birth, sinless life, sacrificial death, subsequent resurrection, and His ascension to the throne at the right hand of God.
- The second ring is doctrine, which is interpretation of Scripture. Views depend upon culture, geography, timeline, experience, and teaching.
- The third ring is anything that is not clearly spelled out in Scripture. It is at this ring that we can come together with people of other churches and other denominations to work toward a common goal.
Jesus told us plainly, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this will the world know that you are My disciples if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). Finding ways to segregate is not loving each other. Let’s love like Jesus told us to love, shall we?
Abba, You are the great Uniter. Your Spirit lives in us and binds our hearts together. May we look for Your Spirit in each person who claims to be Your disciple. Through loving each other as You have loved us and through cooperating together toward a unified goal, we can reach the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ, Your Son! Direct our hearts, O God. Amen.