Our polarized culture has bled into churches, at times creating postures of distrust, uncharitable exchanges, and ignorance about situations and issues. It should be expected, then, that misunderstandings will abound in the SBC, considering we are all finite beings.
Understanding ignorance as “the state or fact of being ignorant: lack of knowledge, education, or awareness (Merriam-Webster),” consider how many situations, conversations, and issues develop where people lack knowledge, education, or awareness. In other words, we are often genuinely ignorant.
But why have we become comfortable with ignorance? Why do we not persist on pushing through ignorance toward understanding? Why do we sometimes even perpetuate ignorance through social media posts or conversations?
Here’s the question I’ll answer: What helps us overcome ignorance? Relationships.
We will not always understand a situation. If it’s a situation demanding our attention (not all do), in those moments, we can either run with what we think we know or we can find answers. Relationships increase our capacity for answers.
A simple example: When you hear of something involving an organization or a person, do you talk to that person, someone in that organization, or someone who knows that person to gain better understanding? Those relationships will mine out more accurate information to give you clarity when discerning a situation or response.
The SBC’s cooperative spirit should be our greatest help in understanding situations, what someone says, and even doctrine. Our convention is built on relationships that propel the Great Commission, but too often, our focus is not the mission.
Even when the response we need to hear is tough to bear, it’s easier coming from someone with whom you have a relationship. Proverbs gives us this biblical principle: “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:5-6, ESV).
If you genuinely care about a person, you will not fear telling him the truth or even correcting them in love when necessary. This open rebuke (honest conversation and correction) is better than being withdrawn or closed up in a situation.
We need to love others enough to have honest conversations to gain understanding. Relationships jump the hurdles of misunderstanding.
Pursue relationships, gain understanding, and let’s stay committed to the Great Commission!