Johnson compels Texas Baptists to live altruistically in a self-centered world


WACO— In a world that pursues self-centered goals such as wealth, comfort, and fame—altruism can get people's attention, BGCT president Jeff Johnson told the audience at the 2014 Annual Meeting. But living that kind of difference is not going to be simple.

Johnson presented his final address as president at the Monday night worship rally of the Meeting on Nov. 17. Introduced on stage by his three daughters Sara, Lori, and Julie, and preceded by worship led by the choir of the church he pastors, First Baptist Church in Commerce, Johnson gave a compelling message about truly being set apart in a world where generosity is unexpected.

Generosity surprises people, Johnson explained. And unfortunately, it is oftentimes shocking to see "followers of Christ" make it evident through their actions that they are truly following Christ.

Using an analogy from a familiar elementary school game, show-and-tell, Johnson said, "You are to show and you are to tell and if you don't do them at the same time, it's not going to be believable."

In John 1:1, the Bible notes in the beginning was the Word, but it also notes the Word became flesh. Believing in the Gospel and living it out together strengthen, shape and support one another, Johnson said.

Living out faith is the key. And doing so will take transformation. A caterpillar, he began to illustrate, goes through metamorphosis, where it risks everything to go into the cocoon. In the end, everyone knows it comes out as a beautiful butterfly, but it was not an easy process.

"This is the reason why the butterfly is an authentic symbol of resurrection," Johnson said. "It's not because it's cute. But because it risks dying to be born to new life—and then lives the difference."

Just as Paul said in Romans 12, Christians are not to be conformed, but rather transformed.

"Texas Baptists," Johnson addressed the audience, challenging them with the following statement: "Is anyone asking about your hope? Our hope? About why you live differently? If no one is asking, perhaps (we are) not living the difference enough to pique curiosity. Christ calls us to be radically different and other-centered."

He concluded by saying living the difference will inevitably take hard work. Just like fulfilling household chores takes responsibility, so also living altruistically takes determination.

"May we be the tangible evidence that God is at work in the world and truly cares about every level of human need," he challenged Texas Baptists. "Live the difference."

Johnson served two years as BGCT president. A vote during Monday's business session appointed Kathy Hillman from Waco as the 2014-2015 BGCT president.

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