A few weeks ago I posted Part 1 in the series about “How to be an Independent Baptist and Get Along with Others at the Same Time.” You can read that here if you haven’t done so yet: How to be an Independent Baptist and Get-Along With Others at the Same Time It has been a busy few weeks and I have answered a lot of emails and calls in light of what I first wrote. So forgive me for the delay in posting the concluding thoughts. Here is Part 2:
4. Remember that good men can maintain a variety of positions with a loving, gentle, Christlike spirit, and should!
It is called love, and “is kind” and “envieth not” and “vaunteth not itself” and is “not puffed up.” It “does not behave itself unseemly, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil” (I Corinthians 13:4-5 AV). John said it like this: “he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (I John 4:20 AV). For instance, a few friends of mine host something called “Idea Day.” Love them. Pray for them. Ask God to use them to help our movement learn some good ideas and implement them to the winning of souls and the furtherance of the gospel. One pastor may use a song you don’t prefer. Pray for him. Love him. Ask God to use him to impact thousands of lives and through his ministry to win many souls to Christ. Another pastor’s church may have a dress standard that is a full foot and a half longer than your standard! Love him. Pray for him. Thank God for the work he is doing and ask God to use him to impact thousands of lives and through his ministry to win many souls to Christ. We must remember that Independent Baptists can maintain a variety of positions with a loving, gentle, Christlike spirit and should.
5. Remember that good men should stop attacking each other and should stop reading the reports of those who publish such attacks.
Have you ever read David Cloud’s view of Lancaster Baptist Church’s music? You would expect a nightclub atmosphere with smoke and deafening volume and people dancing in the aisle. What they actually have is great services filled with good singing and great preaching and dozens who are coming to Christ. Have you ever heard some people’s views of the dress standards of my good friends the Van Gelderens? Some would have you think that they are a weird communal cult, while they are actually a wonderful group of loving people who are desperately trying to honor God by living Christ-like lives and by reaching souls for Christ. They are dear friends to our family and ministry! We should always remember that God’s word instructs us to “speak not evil one of another” (James 4:11). We seem to have forgotten that the “wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy, and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). I have tried to make it my practice for many years to do two things in light of these matters. First, when I hear a negative about another brother, I try to jot him a note and encourage him in a specific area where I know he is being used of God. Second, I ask God to help me not to be critical and unfair towards another. I fear that we too often make judgments assuming that we know another’s motives, the will of God for him and his ministry, and even his future!
In conclusion, I say it again: the Independent Baptists that I know love Jesus and are genuinely seeking to please Him. Many of them are sincere soul-winners and have given their lives to reach people with the Gospel. We don’t always agree. Some use music that I am not as comfortable with as others are. Some write or tweet things that startle me. Some do things I would not do if I were in charge of their church. However, I am for them. I pray for them and hope they can impact this generation and that thousands come to Christ. I pray for their families and hope their children love God and serve God in the same way that I want my children to love and serve God. I pray for their purity, that they will always have a clean heart. I pray for their churches that they will see thousands of lives changed by the power of the Gospel. And I pray for me. That I will be an encouragement to fellow believers, that I too will maintain a clean heart, and that I too will love souls and see thousands saved!
We don’t always have to agree wholeheartedly with each other. But we are brothers and we serve the same Jesus! Let’s pray for each other and encourage each other and in the midst of all of our differences of opinions, let’s pray for great wisdom. After all, “the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy, and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (James 3:17-18 AV).