So. Baptist president calls Christians to culture of love

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FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- Christ's message of love, conveyed in Scripture, should guide our churches, our convention, and our daily walk as Christians, said Ronnie Floyd in an Oct. 11 chapel sermon at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Floyd, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, preached from John 13:34-35: "I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Floyd asked, "You want to change everything in the world?"

"Love one another," he added. "It is love that transforms the culture around us.

"The culture of love needs to permeate the culture of your church, pastor and future pastor, and the culture of love needs to permeate the culture of the Southern Baptist Convention."

Floyd, a two-time graduate of Southwestern Seminary, 2004 distinguished alumnus, and former president of the SBC, noted that Southern Baptists have had a history of championing the sanctity of human life, but are also called to champion "the dignity of human life," and to "respect one another."

"I'm deeply convicted that we need a new generation of Baptists that understand the power of respecting each other, believing the best about one another, rather than the worst," he said.

Respect for one another, Floyd said, is evident when Christian leaders live for Jesus, love each other, and promote Christian unity.

"Christian leadership is not creating suspicion about someone else," he said. "Christian leadership is not striving to put others down.

"Christian leadership is not throwing other people under the bus, and Christian leadership is not promoting division and strife among brothers and sisters of Christ," he said. "Christian leadership does not target drive-by accusations via social media. That's not what Christian leaders do. Christian leaders, they live for Jesus. Christian leaders love other people and Christian leaders forward and promote Christian unity."

To combat the toxic culture of divisiveness and anger that infects our country and our churches, Floyd said we must build a Southern Baptist Convention that has the kind of "culture that is compatible with the strategy in the heart of Jesus in Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:19-20."

"Let's stop walking on our own message and stamping out our own strategy," Floyd noted, "Let's do our best to be a part of a generation of Baptists that will recapture what it means to love and will recapture what it means to walk in unity together."

Unity is the heart of Christianity and the prayer of Christ for the church, Floyd said. Suspicion, gossip, lies and division are "what need to be denounced, not Christian unity."

When Christian love steers and directs our culture, it will transform families, it will transform marriages, and it will "change a dead church and move it to live. We need a baptism of love!"

"Jesus did not say that you would be known by your scholarship, and he did not say that you will be set apart by your degrees," said Floyd, noting the application to those gathered in the chapel service. "He did not say you would be set apart by your theology or your intellect or your dress or your music, but Jesus said the world's going to know who you are by one thing alone: love one another."

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