I love cooperation and I am thankful for the cooperation that takes place among Southern Baptists. This has made so many things possible for me, and many others.
And it has certainly given us an opportunity to participate in the Great Commission together. I am so thankful for the hard work and the many hours that the GCRTF has put in trying to help us as Southern Baptists be more effective in the Great Commission. I am grateful for the recommendations that they have brought forth. So, I love the SBC and the GCR and I will vote in favor of it in Orlando, but I’ve struggled to fully embrace the SBC and the GCR for several reasons. And I suspect this feeling is not limited to me. I have been devastated lately confronting my own sinfulness in this area. For instance, when Ronnie Floyd delivered the Progress Report he said, “Our present culture represents 1 Corinthians 3 much more than 1 Corinthians 13.” This is how messed up I am, I immediately thought, yeah so many “other” people in the SBC need to heed this. The reality is I need to hear that, and I am saddened how I so quickly look to others as the problem. I am the problem. And it is possible that I am not the only one. It makes me skeptical that we will ever be able to cooperate for the “propagation of the gospel.” As I observe this I am fully aware that we will not be able to cooperate without the grace and mercy of God and the reason why is because I (we) am (are) so sinful. So here is why I am an obstacle to cooperation and even potentially to a GCR.
It was not my idea. I wasn’t the one who imagined it and I didn’t make decisions about what we would change in the SBC. As a prideful and arrogant man, I believe I know a better way than many of my elder brothers in the SBC. The only thing I can think of, and it saddens me, is that I want the “glory” that may result from this to go to me and recognized as my ideas. I want the validation from knowing I was right. In this same context, I struggle with cooperation because I think my way is best and it’s hard to lean on others. Again this is because I think I know better and I want the “glory” or praise that might come from a move of God, or seeming move of God. Yes, that sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? That is why as I take stock of my life I am deeply dismayed by my sin and pride.
In addition, I really struggle to be charitable toward my brothers in Christ. I want to see myself as better, smarter, etc than others. I tend to distrust others. So, I struggle to give the benefit of the doubt to my brother, or I want to critique their theology. I know that not all disagreement is bad, but when I disagree often I do it without charity. And my instinct is to respond by ripping someone apart in my mind or on a blog because I want to lift myself up and put him or her down. I really struggle being charitable to others, probably because I want to exalt myself and not truth. I have an idol in my life and it is me. And so I struggle to cooperate.
Also, I am a territorial person. I want the seminaries/churches/ministries that my family and I are connected with to get ample resources and respect.
In addition, I tend to buck against cooperation and want to drill holes in the GCR because it is easier for me to be skeptical and a critic and not get my hopes up for better cooperation or a GCR. That way I will never be left looking silly if things don’t progress. Plus, it is easier for me to criticize and “poke holes” than it is to be a part of a solution that might fail.
So ultimately, what I am saddened over in my own life is that I love myself. I want to increase and not decrease. I want the glory and that makes me an obstacle to cooperation and change. I need to repent and I desperately need the grace and mercy of God in crucifying my flesh. I want to be a person of humility, charity, and Christlike character (Phil. 2 for example). And I want to be someone who cooperates with other brothers and sisters so that the fame of Christ would spread throughout the earth. My only problem is I want my fame attached with it.