LEE’S SUMMIT — William Shaw, two-time president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, called messengers and guests at the Baptist General Convention of Missouri annual meeting to focus on Jesus as the kingdom’s attraction and the unity of Christian purpose.
The pastor of White Rock Baptist Church in Philadelphia emphasized Jesus’ promise in John 12:20 that when He is lifted up, He would “draw all men” to Himself.
At the time, some Greeks had approached Philip and asked to see Jesus. “The Greeks had found a connection with Philip…. In some way, everybody has some rapport with somebody,” Shaw said. “[There] ought to be something in us that makes others comfortable that we have a connection with the Master.”
When others see Jesus in His followers, they will be attracted to Him. Believers must be careful to reflect Christ in their lives. “To really see Him is to be constrained to follow Him,” the pastor said. It is “imperative…for everybody to really see Him, not a mirage…not a substitute. It is a privilege for us to connect persons with the Master.”
Jesus died on the cross so that all people would see Him and the purpose of His life. “He came to make holy love clear…even at the cost of His own life,” Shaw said. That’s why the cross must be at the center of the gospel message.
Jesus was not self-seeking; instead, He gave Himself to others. His followers are to do the same. Shaw called for believers to make sure they do not water down the gospel, to substitute entertainment for it or to refocus the message away from its central message in an attempt to make people turn to God.
Instead, Christians are to glorify God so that His presence, purpose and power are seen. “Let Jesus be the attraction of our life,” Shaw said.
The longtime pastor urged listeners to realize that believers are “people with a purpose” who must be bound in the same unity that exists between the Father and the Son. John 17 records Jesus’ prayer for that relationship among all followers and between believers and the Lord.
“We dare not separate ourselves from the One who sent us,” Shaw said.
Believers also should not separate themselves from their purpose — to proclaim God’s message that Christ died for the world. “It’s not necessary…to decide what it is that we are all about,” Shaw said. “[That] lies in the hand of Him who sent us.”
Jesus came to proclaim the kingdom and to speak the truth of the kingdom and He demonstrated kingdom power.
Shaw challenged listeners that a believer’s life is not lived in exclusion from the world but by participation in it. “We have the message and the word of life,” he said.
God’s mission for believers is not accomplished in a safety zone. His followers must rely upon Him, and the mission’s outcome is a matter of life and death for others.
The power to accomplish God’s purpose lies in the resurrection and in the unity for which Christ prayed, Shaw added. “We can’t be complete without one another,” he said.