FIRST-PERSON: A pivot foot for the Gospel
BRANDON, Miss. (BP) -- I was first introduced to the idea of a pivot foot not on a basketball court but in a seminary classroom when a counseling professor used the term as an illustration.
Similar to basketball players, he wanted his students to keep one foot stationary in their biblical convictions, yet swivel open in respect to counselors who held opposing viewpoints.
A seed was planted within me that day. Over time, with nurturing by the Holy Spirit, the illustration of that basketball move blossomed into an unexpected work of humility in my life.
My pivot foot has expanded my circle of friends to now include those with whom I don’t agree on every point of theology or practice. God has given me the grace to love and accept Christians of various backgrounds and theological leanings. He has matured me in ways I didn’t realize I even needed.
The landscape of Southern Baptists currently consists of believers grounded in the truth of the Gospel, yet divided on various issues. Our denomination could benefit by developing a pivot foot.
Here are five reasons why:
To promote unity within the body of Christ
Galatians 3:28 states that believers come from different races, social statuses and genders, but in Christ we are one.
We also make distinctions among ourselves based on theological convictions, church methodology or views of Christian culture and conduct. Convinced our own preferences are right, we feel justified when we quietly, yet scornfully dismiss our brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree.
However, we would do well to remember our equal standing. Proponents of both groups are sinners raised to life in Christ. The Gospel levels us. So let’s use our pivot foot to find unity within the body of Christ.
For the good of unbelievers
The development of a Christian pivot foot ironically benefits unbelievers. In Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17, He petitions the Father four times for the unity of His people (vs. 11, 21-23).
One motivation is love for the lost. Jesus concludes His request in verse 21 with: “so that the world may believe You have sent me.”
How does unity among Christians bring the lost to believe Jesus is God in the flesh? When we unite, our focus moves outward toward the hurting, instead of inward on ourselves. We begin to see needs we previously missed. Together, we offer love in the form of deeds and truth. They see our good works and give glory to God. Let’s pivot toward one another for the sake of the lost.
To demonstrate humility
Pride loves being right. Pride also loves self while humility puts others first. As we humbly extend our pivot foot, we make room for those with whom we disagree.
It takes humility to set aside for the sake of someone else what we deem as unequivocally right. Could we begin to question ourselves some, remembering our own fallibility? Maybe our right findings aren’t as impenetrable as we thought. And even if they are, could we lower our pride in them to make room for others to come close?
Jesus humbly set aside His divine rights for a time for the sake of others (Philippians 2:5-8). Let’s identify with Christ and model His humility by developing a pivot foot.
For the opportunity to show love
It’s only natural to love people just like ourselves. Even the Gentiles do this (Matthew 5:46). But Christ-like love intentionally pivots toward opponents for their good, even when the flesh prefers to turn away.
Consider how Jesus loves and welcomes people unlike Himself. The Infinite moves toward the finite. The Self-Sufficient invites the dependent near. The Holy One draws sinners to Himself. The foundation of Jesus’ ministry was a radical, self-less love. A more expansive pivot foot never existed.
Let’s be more than just open to these opportunities. May we cheerfully pursue those with whom we differ and even surprise them by our love and affirmation.
For the unexpected benefit of joy
If you’ve remained in your theological and practical bubble for some time, you might be surprised by how much you’d learn and enjoy rubbing shoulders with some outsiders. I certainly was.
When the Lord moved my family to a church unlike any we’d served in, I was skeptical at first. But as I pivoted my heart toward them, I found a surprising joy.
I quickly realized we had more in common than I expected, primarily the Gospel. This alone brought joy. I was refreshed by their genuine desire to abide in Jesus and not simply acknowledge truths about Him. I saw a vibrancy of faith and eagerness in prayer that challenged me to seek the Father more wholeheartedly. Through their faithfulness to serve and teach, the Holy Spirit proved He can use a variety of ministries to accomplish the Father’s work (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). And their quiet patience toward those with differing viewpoints taught me a lesson about humility.
We Southern Baptists may not be known for our basketball skills, but by God’s grace, I pray these motivations would encourage us to cultivate a pivot foot toward one another that has far-reaching effects.