By Ken Stalls, BCM/D President and Pastor of South End Baptist Church, Frederick, Md.
Are you familiar with the word egocentric? You probably are aware of the word and possibly it is a part of your everyday usage. It does not take a wordsmith to notice that the first three letters remind us of the word ego. Egocentric means thinking or acting with the view that one’s self is the center, object and norm of all experience. It is an extremely selfish outlook on life. In fact, egocentricity is the antithesis of the Christian missionary approach to life. The missionary approach involves a deliberate attempt to reach all people everywhere with the love of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Contrary to the egocentric approach, life is not all about ME. It is all about God and those He loves (all people everywhere).
One of the main reasons that I have affiliated with Southern Baptists since my conversion has been our denomination’s focus on Christian missions and evangelism. I do not mean to infer that other denominations do not care about missions, but Southern Baptists have always intentionally made outreach a focus of our efforts, prayers and our giving. The Church of the first century was missionary and evangelistic not because of ambition, pride or arrogance, but because they fully understood that reaching others was an integral part of who and what we are. It springs from a desire to share the incomparable blessing that we have from our Lord with all people. No one should be denied the privilege of knowing Christ. Granted, there have been times when we as the Church have diminished our zeal and at times, even appear to have lost it. However, our Lord always draws us back to our focus. Southern Baptists have been very much used by God to keep this focus before His Church.
Even deeper than our own innate feelings about the necessity to be mission minded and evangelistic, is the fact that reaching out to others did not begin with us, but with our God. The love of God made outreach essential. God demands that those on the outside be reached. It is the Good Shepherd’s heartbeat to reach out to the downtrodden, rejected and the overlooked of this world. Therefore, it must be our heartbeat as well, if indeed, He lives within us. He does not change when He indwells us; we do…we must!
As God’s people here in the blessed states of Maryland and Delaware, we have a tremendous opportunity to be missionary and evangelistic warriors for our Lord. Truly, the words of Jesus in John 4:35b apply to us as much as to the original hearers, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for the harvest.” (NIV).
May your day be blessed by the privilege of being a blessing to others. Thank you for the privilege of serving as President or our great convention. May we all be found faithful by our Great God and Savior.