I have read several remarks over the last day or two about the whole business with the IMB BOT becoming a distraction from God’s work. The implication, I believe, has been that we should pay attention to the mission and let the Trustees take care of themselves.
As I was reading the Word yesterday, I started out with Paul’s first pastoral epistle to Timothy. This immediately jumped out at me.
1 Tim 1:3-7
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work-which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. (NIV)
I want to pull a few things out of this Scripture for us all.
1) Quibbling about doctrinal minutiae leads to controversy (3b – 4a). Amen to that. I think we all can see that happening. (I know there is more to that section, but I summarize for brevity.)
2) The controversy becomes the hindrance of God’s work (4b). We have seen this to be true. We all know that the Lottie Moon offering and our Cooperative Program giving are both on the line. Our generation gives to what they think is important and is handled well. Trust is sacred – hard earned and easily lost. The controversy endangers the conviction that we are handling God’s business well and that the task is important.
Let me say here that my church is one of the state’s highest per capita givers to all of our missions offerings and to the cooperative program, and I fully support that. In fact, our church gives so much, that we routinely make the top 100 givers in the state in bulk giving (not the prorated per capita standings) even though we are much smaller than many of the churches in larger towns. I say this to explain that I believe in the CP and the missions emphasis and I do not want to threaten them in any way. In fact, just the opposite is true. Also, the giving of this church is also not dependant on me. We were big CP & missions givers long before I arrived and will be long after I go. I just am saying that I am in agreement with our church and giving.
3) There is a worthy fight within the verse that Paul encourages. It is the fight to stop the quibbling over doctrinal minutiae (3a). Paul tells Timothy to get these people on task and to refocus on God’s work, the goal of which is love, which comes from a pure heart, good conscience and a sincere faith. The fight to focus is the one that Paul endorses.
It is to this fight that I call us. We need to be unswerving in our commitment to get everyone back on task. No one should feel guilty about it, either. Rather, we should feel sober and humble. I know that I do.
I want to say something about the Trustees of the IMB, here. I believe that the great many of them fulfill all three of the qualifications that produce love, the goal of God’s work: a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. I can not say this of everyone on the board, but I do say this of virtually all of them. I beg them: please act openly to set aside doctrinal issues that have created the controversy. Let us all go about the Mission of winning and making disciples of the world.