I am praying that Missouri Baptists will become…spiritually healthy Christians, coming together in healthy churches, going to an unhealthy world with the healing Gospel of Jesus Christ. Maybe you have heard that was the theme of my Executive Director’s address – some people actually accused me of preaching – on Monday night of the convention last week. In that message (I admit, I was preaching) I referred to a series of articles that I had written for Pathway earlier in the year. After several requests, I have agreed to rerun the articles that articulate and explain the vision statement God has given me for the Missouri Baptist Convention. The articles were written earlier this year, and are written with a 2009 agenda in mind—but I hope we can apply the truths to 2010 and beyond.
Here’s the first article:
To employ an old show-me phrase, I want Missouri Baptists to meet themselves “coming and going” in 2009. That statement, originally printed in my first Pathway article of the new year, deserves some explanation. The explanation begins with another statement I made in the same earlier article. The second statement is a declaration that I hope will become the vision statement of your Missouri Baptist Convention: that Missouri Baptists are spiritually healthy Christians, coming together in healthy churches, going to an unhealthy world with the healing Gospel of Jesus Christ. I really want Missouri Baptists to meet themselves coming and going in 2009.
Let’s break down that statement one phrase at a time.
Spiritually healthy Christians are:
Saved. Do you remember Carman, the Christian contemporary singer/rapper who was most famous in the mid-1980s. Carman recorded an album that included a song called “Radically Saved.” His song included phrases like “radically saved” and “saved to the bone.” But the fact is everyone who is genuinely saved is radically saved. I was in college before I heard the phrase “Lordship Salvation.” But I have come to understand that there is no genuine salvation apart from Lordship salvation. Lordship salvation dispels the myth that a person can make Jesus their Savior without also making Him their Lord. Romans 10:9 declares “that if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Spiritually healthy Christians live every day with Jesus Christ on the throne in their lives.
Filled with the Holy Spirit. Now, don’t get upset before you hear me out on this. I understand that all genuine Christians are filled with Holy Spirit at the moment of their conversion. I had a seminary professor who used to say that Christians ought to be so “… full to over-filled with the Holy Spirit” that they “… slosh on people.” That is just a picturesque way of saying that the world will see a difference in Christians who are filled with the Spirit of God. Spiritually healthy Christians are filled with God and bear a resemblance to God.
Devoted to personal discipleship through daily devotions. Personal discipleship that takes place because of time spent in Scripture and in prayer. Can you imagine considering yourself to be in relationship to someone, but never talking with that person. As Christians, we should not allow our feet to hit the floor in the morning without first speaking to our Lord. I cannot imagine facing the challenges of every day without the energy and guidance given by God during daily devotions.
Holy in their Lifestyle. In the first verse of the fourth chapter of Ephesians, under the inspiration of God, the Apostle Paul tells us to “… walk worthy of the calling to which you were called.” Surely the most glaring inconsistency in the modern church is that, too often, church members conduct themselves in the same ungodly ways as unbelievers. But Christians ought to live holy lives. Spiritually healthy Christians are people who continually exemplify the old hymn, “Let Others See Jesus in You.” Spiritually healthy Christians are, in the words of the hymn, “… clean and pure without, within.”
Passionate witnesses for Christ. Spiritually healthy Christians are Christians who are anxious to tell others about their Savior. You’ve heard this several times by now—but may I say again to you again, that—the reason for the very low baptismal statistics in our Missouri Baptist churches is the relatively few number of times that Missouri Baptists actually share the Gospel.
In love with the Lord’s church. Speaking to the church leaders in Ephesus, Paul declared “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Jesus loved the church so much that He died for the church. Christians ought to also love the church. And those who love the church will not, under any circumstances, do or say anything, that could destroy the church.
All of us know that we stand in need of spiritual health in our Missouri Baptist Convention and in the churches of our convention. But, I am convinced that neither the Missouri Baptist Convention nor the churches of our convention will be healthy until our churches are filled with spiritually healthy Christians. And, spiritually healthy Christians are saved, filled with the Holy Spirit, devoted to personal discipleship through daily devotions, holy in their lifestyle, passionate witnesses for Christ, and in love with the Lord’s church.
We will unpack the rest of that vision statement in my next Pathway column. In the meantime will you pray with me that Missouri Baptists will meet themselves coming and going in 2009? It will happen only when Missouri Baptists are spiritually healthy Christians, coming together in healthy churches, going to an unhealthy world with the healing Gospel of Jesus Christ.