By Lisa Sergent
SBC President Fred Luter spoke to Illinois Baptist State Association staff in their Wednesday, April 17 IBSA chapel service urging them to, “Listen to the challenge of Jesus. Pray for the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers.”
A day after meeting leaders from around the state at the Meet the President Event, Luter spoke from Matthew 9:35-38, telling staff to ask themselves, “What would Jesus do? What’s it going to take to reach our nation? What’s it going to take to reach our community? What’s it going to take to reach our state?
“If we really want to talk about changing lives, we need to talk to somebody who has experience changing lives. Jesus always had a word for every question, every circumstance. Jesus always had an answer no matter who the person was, no matter what the question was.”
There were three things Jesus would always do, said Luter: Be concerned, be compassionate and give a challenge.
Contrasting today’s society with the past, Luter said this generation doesn’t have a respect for the Lord or the church like previous generations. “What would Jesus do to reach this generation, to reach this society? I have no doubt in my mind, He would meet them. He would be concerned about people. That’s why if you really want to impact Illinois you must be concerned about the lost and the unchurched. We must be concerned about their hurts, their struggles, their addictions, and their pain. We must be concerned about their eternal destiny.”
Luter said Christians need to remember what their lives were like before they were saved to better identify with the lostness around them. “We weren’t always born again. God brought us from somewhere.
Yesterday, the SBC president shared how he had been raised in a fatherless home, hung-out with a tough crowd, and had suffered life-threatening injuries in a motorcycle accident in his youth. While still in the hospital, a deacon from his local church told him he needed to accept Jesus as his savior. The former street preacher, now pastor of the thriving Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, and first African-American president of the Southern Baptist Convention, is never far from his roots, always remembering how far Jesus has brought him.
“Those of us who are still amazed by God’s amazing grace, those of us who never got over being saved who never got over the grace of God, those of us who never got over the fact that we could be in hell today but thank God for the grace of God. We must show compassion for this generation.”
He implored, “Brothers and sisters listen to the challenge of Jesus. Illinois, listen to the challenge of Jesus. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Listen to the challenge of the master.”
Then, Luter emphasized Jesus did not give that challenge to the government or to politicians. “The challenge was given to the church.”
He cautioned all Christians against complacency. “We need people who want to take up the challenge of Jesus Christ and share the Gospel with everybody. We’ve got enough church folks; we need laborers who will take up the challenge. Will you take up that challenge today?”
Finishing his message, Luter offered one last thought for Baptists in Illinois, “What would Jesus do for this iPod, iPad, iPhone, tattooed, baggy pants, underwear showing generation? He would be concerned. He would show compassion. He would set out the challenge, because the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”
Lisa Sergent is communications director for the Illinois Baptist State Association.