SPRINGFIELD—Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Director David Tolliver used his address Oct. 25 to the 176th annual meeting of the MBC to concentrate on love.
He asked messengers to examine their “love quotient” according to John 13:35, which identifies different degrees of love for brothers and sisters in Christ.
“I am not naïve, but I am idealistic,” he said. “I just believe God’s people ought to act like God’s people. I believe Christians ought to act like Christ, and I’m going to be watching for that in this convention.”
Tolliver encouraged Missouri Baptists in the Expo Center to rise to the level of people knowing that they are disciples of Jesus by demonstrating that they have love for one another. He said it is relatively easy for us to love the Savior and the Scriptures, but not so simple to love our situation, which requires contentment.
“I’m convinced we ought to love the situation where God’s placed us,” he said.
Loving sinners is the next step up on the love quotient ladder of spiritual difficulty. Loving saints is an even higher rung.
“When you genuinely love the saints, you love your friends, your fans, your foes, and those who absolutely frustrate you,” Tolliver said.
The executive director then noted on the first night of the annual meeting that Missouri Baptists could apply this by showing love toward people on either side of the lawsuits issue or the Hannibal-LaGrange College name change issue.
“We’re family, and families—functional families at least—even when we disagree, we love each other!” Tolliver said.
Tolliver talks a lot about love in the Baptist Building. Often he prays that we will love people like Jesus did, or that we will love people a little more today than we did yesterday. His love focus is constant, and his love message is strong.
For those who felt that “University of Hannibal” would have been a better name than “Hannibal LaGrange University,” or vice versa, Tolliver said it is imperative for love to be front and center, based on the feedback he has been getting on the issue.
“I have received emails, letters, and telephone calls and other kinds of correspondence and I’ve got to be honest with you, some of it is less than Christ-like,” he said. “I understand you’re passionate about your position. Do you understand we can never allow our passion to override our position in Christ nor our obligation to love our brothers and sisters in Christ and to demonstrate that love, because by this all will know that we’re His disciples?”
At that the messengers broke out in applause.
Tolliver’s altar call involved MBC team leaders and specialists coming up front along with Executive Board members to pray with people. It was a love altar call, with people praying for more love in their lives.
ALLEN PALMERI/associate editor