By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
It was and continues to be a great theme. After all, if Jesus is not the center of it all, then why do we do what we do?
Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Of all people who ever walked this earth, Jesus deserves the title, “The Center of It All.”
Though we say it, and I honestly think we believe it, why can’t we practice it? We say Jesus is the center of it all, but act as if we are the center.
Last week’s SBC annual meeting is a perfect example. If Jesus is the center of all we do as Southern Baptists, then why was there so much division and strife at last week’s annual meeting?
During the meeting’s business sessions, SBC president Ed Litton had to continually remind messengers that shouting at and disrupting others were not acceptable. Those kinds of reactions shouldn’t take place in Christian meetings. We are followers of the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings.
Messengers also abused the parliamentary rules that are necessary to make sure meetings are run in an orderly fashion. For example, messengers constantly used the “Point of Order” button to “cut in line” to get their message out, despite repeated warnings from Litton that their actions were “out of order.”
Nearly every item of business was debated. The climate in the room seemed as if messengers lacked respect for Litton and each other.
One pastor got up during a session on June 15 and basically said good-bye to the Southern Baptist Convention. He walked away. We may not always agree with each other, but there is a way to disagree and still respect one another.
Perhaps the thing that bothered me most was when messengers were rude to the pages; the young men and women — mostly college and seminary students — who provide administrative support to the President by running documents from the messengers to the platform. Litton had to chastise the messengers at the beginning of the second session Tuesday.
Allison Young is a former page who now coordinates pages for the SBC Executive Committee. She is a member of Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood.
This year’s volunteers were from Gateway Baptist Theological Seminary with additional support by students from California Baptist University. She confirmed that some messengers were disrespectful, especially during the first session on Tuesday, June 14. “They have not been polite,” she said.
Young, who has coordinated pages since 2015, noted a change in attitude with messengers since COVID-19. There were tense times last year and it has continued this year, she said.
Noting that pages are volunteers donating their time, Young said it will become harder to get volunteers in the future “if they know they will not be treated well.”
Southern Baptists, we need to keep in mind that we always represent Jesus Christ. What message do we send to our young people when Christians treat them like the world treats them? How can we preach the love of Jesus on Sunday and be rude to volunteers at a Christian event Monday through Wednesday? There is a disconnect and it seems that, at times last week, Jesus was not the “the center of it all.”
Philippians 1:27 (New Living Translation) reads, “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourself in a manner worthy about the good news of Christ.”
The SBC is worth saving and supporting. The enemy is not our brother or sister in Christ. We seem to forget that. Satan is actively sowing seeds of discord among God’s people. We cannot allow those seeds to take root.
But when we display Philippians 1:27 through our actions, Jesus is indeed “the center of it all.” B&R