LIBERTY — President Jimmy Carter urged nearly 1,000 Baptists to gather together under the “common umbrella” of their faith at the Baptist Border Crossing in Liberty.
Carter, a Baptist layman often referred to as the most famous Sunday School teacher, became a Christian as a child and has taught the Bible for 66 years. “The evolution of the New Baptist Covenant has been one of the most exciting elements of my Christian life,” he said.
He described the January 2008 event as bringing together 15,000 Baptists from across racial lines to “better serve the Prince of Peace with eagerness and to spread the gospel and promote harmony,” not just among Baptists, but among all Christians.
“We have a serious problem though,” he said. It is likely that Christian believers are more divided now than at any other time in history. The vision of Christians today is an image of division and argument.
He described that division as a cancer metastasizing in the body of Christ. “It’s directly opposite of the gentle and loving aspect of the Savior that we profess to worship.”
He focused on Paul’s words to the Corinthians emphasizing the need for Christians to be of one mind. Paul made it clear “that no substitute of any issue — no matter how important — instead of the good news of our salvation could be acceptable; that it was an abomination to divide Christians one from another and to subvert evangelism for Christ,” Carter said.
He acknowledged topics that often divide Baptists — the role of women, the timeline of creation, homosexuality, church/state relationships, the death penalty and priesthood of the believer. These issues are important, he said, but compared to Jesus, they are the same as the idol meat that divided first century Christians.
Christians should not be distracted from the simple message of salvation in Christ, he said. Instead, they need to work together to spread the love of Christ.
Jennifer Harris is the news writer for Word&Way.