By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector
MILLINGTON — Michael Ellis, president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, reported that over the past year in his travels and service he observed that “we’re doing so many great things apart. We need to bring those things together.” Issuing “A Call for Unity in the Community,” Ellis preached last week during the annual meeting of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The pastor of Impact Baptist Church, Memphis, referred the crowd to Philippians 2:1-5.
Light-heartedly he explained that the community he referred to wasn’t the hood he came from, but “the community of believers.”
Christians ought to be unified because we have one church, one purpose, and one King, as Larnelle Harris just sang, he explained. Ellis reminded messengers, however, that the devil hates unity.
He noted that Jesus told God in John 17:22 He had given His followers “the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as We are one. …
“If ever, Dr. Randy (Davis), there was a time the community of believers — the church, the ecclesia, the called out ones — needs to answer the call for unity in the community, that time is now.
“There’s so much disunity … that if the world is going to know what unity is going to look like, it’s going to have to be the church to show them.
“We live in an age of anything. People are doing anything, seeing anything, wearing anything, smo-
king anything, thinking anything, seeing anything, chewing any-thing, eating anything, watching anything, and if we’re going to change that anything to look like Christ, it’s going to be the church coming together to make it happen,” declared Ellis.
Unity must be an important guideline for Christians because God led the Apostle Paul to refer to it in Romans 12:16, I Corinthians 12:12, Galatians 3:28, Ephesians 4:13, and Philippians 2:2, he noted.
The devil desires to divide and conquer the church because he knows he can’t handle us together, explained the president.
Unity creates three things, beginning with an “unselfish people of Christ,” said Ellis, referring to verses 3-4. He said he tries to live by the following — “When things are not going your way, as long as your heart is right, it’s going God’s way.”
Kingdom work is not about “how big your church is, … how big your check is, … how well you preach; it’s how well you reach. … It’s not about how well you gain, it’s how well you give.”
In Ephesians 5:21, Paul said we should “unselfishly submit to one another out of the reverence of Christ.”
Unselfish people in Christ don’t mind holding up one another, struggling with one another, suffering with one another, devoting themselves to one another, and loving one another, he observed.
Secondly, Christians who are unified understand their place in Christ, referring to verses 5-7. The example is Jesus who understood His place in the Trinity, Ellis explained.
“Some folks just don’t want to respect authority for anything,” he stated. He added that people can view this as fitting into God’s puzzle.
“Christ has a place for all of us … to serve.” Christians may not all be able to be what they want to be, but they can be what God is calling them to be, he stated.
Thirdly, unity produces un-shakable people of Christ, reported Ellis.
“We, as Tennessee Baptists, we can’t allow even a Supreme Court justice to change what God has called us to do.” The crowd cheered and clapped.
Through unity, Christians can find that they are unshakable, unmovable, unstoppable, more than a conquerer, an overcomer, victorious, and a winner, declared Ellis.
Then Tennessee Baptists will be able to fulfill the Five Objectives of the TBC, he observed.
“In Christ we are unshakable. … Tennessee Baptists, answer the call to unity in our community.”