WACO — Texas Baptists President René Maciel opened his address during the Monday morning Annual Meeting Worship Session with a bold question.
“Can you honestly say you’ve given yourself to God this year?” he asked.
Maciel read from Jesus’ words in Matthew 22.
But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’
And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:34-60
His was a devotional call for Texas Baptists leaders to reimagine Christian ministry in the context of living in faith and surrender, saying that in light of Jesus’ work, Christians can disagree and still love.
“Is it so much about programs and things and ideas that we lose focus of a God who loves us and wants to have relationship with us?” Maciel asked.
After nearly 10 years serving as president of Baptist University of the Américas, Maciel took a position as community pastor at Woodway Baptist Church in Waco this past September.
Maciel referenced his service to BUA, saying the Lord developed his understanding of what it means to minister the Gospel in service to others during his time at the university.
“When we do offer ourselves to God, we do so with a divided heart,” he said. “We give more time and attention to other things around us.”
Maciel pivoted to Romans 12:1 saying that in surrender, the Church ought not lose sight of what God has called them to.
“God wants all of us,” he said. “He wants me to surrender all that I am and all that I have. Every day is a worship experience. You cannot fulfill God’s purpose for your life when you focus on your own plans.”
Maciel’s address helped Tamiko Jones, minister of Missions and Young Adults at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield, reflect on her own journey.
“It made me ask myself, ‘Am I giving my all?’” she said. “These last two years of ministry have been a walk of faith,” she said. “I was an engineering manager. God called me to ministry and I didn't have a job to go to.”
After 16 years of corporate work experience, Jones said she felt called to full-time ministry.
“When I know I’m serving in obedience, I have a sense of not having to be in control of things. I am in His providence,” she said. “Surrender is hard, but once you do it, there’s no going back.”
Jordan Corona is a freelance writer for the 131st Texas Baptists Annual Meeting.