Welcome to the historic First Baptist Church of Memphis, serving Memphis & the Mid-South since 1839. You will find exciting ministries, mission opportunities, and vibrant worship.

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9:30am Sunday School
11:00am Worship

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5:00pm Dinner
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200 East Parkway North, Memphis, TN 38112 ⋅ Office: 901.454.1131

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Can Anything Bring Us Together?

I stole the title of this article from a fellow minister, Jim Somerville, pastor of FBC Richmond, VA.   It’s the title of a sermon he preached on January 31 and a subsequent article published online.  In it he addresses the polarization of our political climate and the subsequent loss of civility that appears to have accompanied it.  I’d like to say that Jim’s sermon made a great impact, that we’ve seen a downturn in uncivil behavior in our political scene since then, but I’m afraid that’s not the case. 

But then again, Jim’s article was not primarily addressed to a public audience.  As is the case with this article.  Oh, it called out the unnecessary rancor and response we seem to see on a nightly basis going on in the world around us, but to remind his church and the churches that we are called to something better, a higher standard.  As Christians Jim reminds us, in as much as it is possible, we are to live peacefully with everyone.  (Romans 12:18) 

Jim could have chosen that verse or countless others on which to base his sermon.  For instance, Ephesians 4:32-33.  “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”  Or Philippians 2:1-3.  “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”  Now true, these verses are directed at how Christians are to treat other Christians, but it certainly would seem that scripture’s point here is for us to practice inside the church what is our hope for the entire world.  

But in the end, I like the verse Jim chose, and I like even better what he did with it.  Jim suggests that Paul’s word at the end of 1 Corinthians 13 is what we need to hear if we are to rise to the higher standard that Christ has set for us.  “And these three remain: Faith, Hope and Love…”  Faith: We need to have a little faith, not in politics, but in the God who has seen countless presidents, parties, and regimes, come and go, and will see us through as well.  Hope: We have to have hope, not in the future, necessarily, but for the future. Things don’t have to continue to get worse.  They can get better, and we can help them get that way.  And last, Love: We have to love, not just those who are like us or who agree with us, but those who are different and disagree.  The prior verses in this chapter makes it clear that this love must be exhibited beyond just those whom we find easy to love. 

Now such thoughts are not to negate the needed word of the prophetic protest.  We need that voice too.  Indeed we, as people of faith, need to raise that voice, especially on behalf of those who have little or no voice.   But we can do this, I believe (faith) and hope in a way that is loving.   One that is respectful and kind, and does not belittle or negate the voice of others.

We’re engaging this Eastertide, the season of resurrection, in a worship series called Signs of Life.  In that series we will listen to the signs of life that scripture says should be among us as children of the resurrection.  We will also hear about signs of life that are happening even now in our own church.  But an additional sign of the life that we need to exhibit is a genuine respect for those with whom we disagree, both within and outside the church, a respect that grows and bears the fruit of hospitality, community, dialogue, and service.  We need that. The Kingdom needs that.  Our country and our world need people of faith that exhibit and insist on such ideals.    

Grace, David


This article was written by Rev. Dr. David Breckenridge and originally published in the April edition of Together.
Posted by Bridget Ellis at 8:00 AM
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