By Jennifer Harris
Word&Way News Writer
“The Bible can be a real problem,” First Baptist Church, Columbia, pastor John Baker told attendees of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Missouri General Assembly during worship.
The Bible teaches us to “love our enemies” and suggests “you’ve turned my Father’s house into a den of robbers.” Jesus even asks the dead Lazarus to rise.
Yet our culture says we are to take out our enemies, strike preemptively and treat the church like a business. And dead people don’t get up, Baker said.
We prefer the like-minded, like-looking, like-speaking and like-fearing, but the Bible calls us to embrace the world, he said.
“That’s very hard to carry out — even if you are a seasoned church veteran. Perhaps it is hardest if you are a seasoned church veteran.”
In looking at the popular question “what would Jesus do?” Baker is led to ask two others in response. “Who would Jesus love? Who would Jesus want to go without?”
Jesus loves us all. “Jesus would seek the good for the other, even if it cost him,” Baker said. “Jesus would not do without any of us — or ‘them,’” whoever “them” is.
“It would dimish the depth and breadth and limit Jesus’ love,” Baker added.
When we are called to love, give and care for others, those are particular others, Baker said.
“Honestly, we don’t love everybody,” citing the scientific community, the creative arts community, lower or higher economic class and homosexual persons as examples.
“Christ’s love is to control us,” Baker said. “We are to look at others as Jesus would — as just people.”
Why is such a common message important to repeat? “We haven’t done so well with it in our history,” Baker said. “The good news has so often come out as bad news. In a world that needs that embrace, how much effort is the church spending on keeping the already redeemed happy?”
“We are Jesus Christ’s ambassadors,” Baker reminded the crowd. “We are who Jesus sends in to negotiate, to represent His loving arms. He loved till His dying breath and his rising spirit.”
When we embrace the world, then God is pulling the world in through us, sharing His love. “It is our calling, it is our blessing, and I hope and pray it will be our joy.”
Find more coverage of the General Assembly in the May 1 print edition of Word&Way.