Ray Romano’s untheology and the MBC
“Blessed are the NICE”. So says the internationally unrecognized theologian, Ray Romano. And you know what they say, “Everybody loves Raymond”?
I better give credit where credit is due. In chapel recently, MBC Worship Specialist John Francis admitted that his favorite untheologian is Ray Romano. John then told us about a particular episode of the television series, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” in which Ray was talking – actually he was arguing with his very negative, always temperamental, and extremely sarcastic father. But Ray misquoted one of the beautitudes when he said “Well, you know what Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the NICE!”.
By the way, I am still trying to figure what all this says about John Francis – just kidding, John. John Francis is a fully devoted follower of Christ and one of my favorite people. And Ray Romano and John Francis were closer to the truth that many of us want to admit. And they have discovered something that Missouri Baptists ought to consider. “Blessed are the NICE”.
Immediately following John’s challenge to us, Ron Barker took us to the Letter to the Ephesians.
May I say, parenthetically, that we are going to greatly miss Ron Barker. South Carolina’s gain is Missouri’s loss. But, to God be the glory, great things He will continue to do through Ron Barker. Thanks, Ron, for the two years you gave to Missouri Baptists.
But, Ron took us to Ephesians. In just a few minutes, Ron masterfully took us through much of that book. But we camped out for a few minutes at Ephesians 4:1-3. I wish all of you had been there – but, look now at the Word of God to Missouri Baptists. “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
WOW! It almost seems like the Apostle Paul had been in on some of the conversations and meetings that I have attended lately. Those verses speak directly to me and to all Missouri Baptists. The challenge in verse 1 is to “…walk worthy of the calling with which [we] were called.” Then our calling is found in verse 3. It is that we are to “…[endeavor] to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Does that verse describe Missouri Baptists right now? The answer to that question is a resounding NO! There seems to be very few Missouri Baptists currently “…endeavoring the keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The fact is we are a deeply divided Convention. And there are some, it seems, that would rather have their own way than to allow Jesus Christ to have His way in the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC). Understand that the fact that we have differences is not the issue. We will always have differences. Likewise, the fact that we sometimes disagree concerning things like worship style, the application of Scripture, even our disagreement over outreach methodologies – our disagreements concerning those things also is not the problem. The problem is the manner in which we are attempting to have our own way. There are some in the MBC – on all sides of every issue, there are some with a winner-take-all attitude. And brothers and sisters, that attitude will be our destruction.
In verse 2 of Ephesians chapter 4 we find the condition of the heart that enables us to accept the challenge and fulfill our calling. We are to “…walk worthy…endeavoring to keep the unity…with all lowliness and gentleness, with long suffering, bearing with one another in love.” Does that verse describe Missouri Baptists right now? Again, the answer is NO! Recently, I was told that I am naïve to think that Missouri Baptists can have peace. I am not naïve! I am, however, and I will readily admit to being idealistic! Meaning that I am just simple enough to believe that Christians ought to act like Christians! Ephesians 5:1 tells us that we are to be “…imitators of God.” I know it is cliché. But, what would Jesus do?
Whether you are a member of the MBC Executive Board staff or a Convention officer, an Executive Board member, you may be on the board of one of the MBC agencies, a committee member, you might be a member of the Nominating Committee or the Theological Study Committee, you could be a part of the Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association or a part of the Save Our Convention coalition – regardless, the time is now for MBC churches and associations and for every Missouri Baptist to drop his or her personal agenda and pick up the agenda of our Lord, Jesus Christ!
What will it take to “…keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace?”
• Unparalleled commitment to missions through the Cooperative Program
• Yielded individually and corporately and fully to Jesus Christ
“Blessed are the NICE” according to Ray Romano. Actually Jesus said it this way, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called Sons of God.”