COMMENTARY | Robin Bickerstaff Glover
For many Baptists traveling north and east for this month’s Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, Ohio probably feels like an out-of-the-way destination. Before moving to Chicago earlier this year, my husband, Steven (an IBSA zone consultant), and I lived and ministered in Ohio for several years. Those of us in the Midwest know the state as an influential place whose opinions and politics can affect the whole country, and where the gospel is desperately needed.
In the 1980s, Columbus, the state capital, adopted a new slogan, proclaiming the city “the heart of it all.” Truly, time and again, the state has proven to be a powerful community in politics. As one Washington Post columnist wrote before the 2012 presidential election: “As Ohio goes, so goes the presidential race.”
But how much do we know about its capital? Here are some facts and figures: Columbus is home to Ohio State, one of the country’s largest public universities. The city has a large LGBT community and has been named the country’s “most underrated gay city” by an LGBT travel website.
At 36%, Catholicism is the predominant religion practiced in Columbus, and the Muslim population is on the rise. According to the most recent statistics, only 6% of the city’s population identifies as Southern Baptist.
The SBC is going to Columbus in order that we might bring the good news of the gospel to the lost, and so that we might strengthen and encourage each other and our brothers and sisters in Christ who are on the front lines, pushing back the darkness.
As we share the gospel through the Crossover evangelistic outreach and other outlets along the way, we can say like the prophet in Isaiah 40:9, “Behold your God!”
As we go into Columbus, here are some things to remember and pray:
• As light bearers, we must keep the premier things in their place. The premier thing is the love of God, and the second is to love others. As Christians, our premier work is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
• We should go in the spirit of missions, not only sharing the Word, but also showing the gospel through acts of service, compassion, and justice toward the lost.
• We must go to Columbus encouraging our denomination to purposely speak to the issues of our young people, in order that we might raise up a passionate, God-fearing generation of diverse leaders who stand on the Word of God and live with a Christian worldview, even in these difficult times.
Let us greet the city of Columbus graciously. As we do, our desire must be to bless our host city by our conduct and love for people, even as we lift up our voices saying, “Behold your God!”
Robin Bickerstaff Glover is a writer living in Chicago and a member of Uptown Baptist Church.