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Wednesday, September 16, 2009 

The American Dream or the Great Commission Resurgence

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My former pastor from my sending church where I worked 3 years while finishing seminary gave this charge to Southern Seminary students:

Preacher: Al Jackson

Text/title: Matthew 6:19-24 — The American Dream or the Great Commission Resurgence?

Jackson said he was glad to take part in the Conservative Resurgence, which was a Great Commission resurgence, in the Southern Baptist Convention. And he said he is glad to respond to the call of Johnny Hunt at this year’s convention for a Great Commission Resurgence. But Jackson said there is an obstacle to this Great Commission Resurgence.

The big obstacle to the Great Commission Resurgence is not doctrine or a willingness to go, but the American dream.

Overcoming the American dream

We (Americans) are affluent. Even seminary students are affluent. Most people in the world do not have an automobile and will never have an automobile. We are an affluent people, we have bought into the American dream and we are suffering the consequences of pursuing this dream.

We are stuffed with stuff. American people are overflowing with material possessions. We can’t get into our closets because of our stuff. We can’t park our vehicles in our garages because we have so much stuff. We are a consumer society adding more and more stuff to our already overstuffed lives.

I come to you today not as a role model, but as a pilgrim on the road, on the journey, engaging in a battle against the American dream. If we don’t overcome the American dream, the Great Commission Resurgence will be just another Southern Baptist slogan.

I have great hope for the next generation to overcome the American dream. I have very little hope for my generation of pastors. I think we have bought into the American dream, perhaps unwittingly, but we have bought into it. But I have hope for the next generation, your generation.

The problem in the Southern Baptist Convention is not with missionaries or the Women’s Missionary Union. The problem in the SBC is with pastors. So I want to challenge you to plant yourself in a church and work in that church.

The American dream or the Great Commission Resurgence?

Jesus is counter-cultural. The message of Jesus is counter to the American culture. The message of Jesus is counter to every culture that has ever existed.

In Matthew 6, Jesus spoke of two possible investments in life, two possible perspectives on life and two possible masters.

Two possible investments (6:19-21)

We have two options. Either we invest in earth or we invest in heaven. We invest our resources in the American dream or we invest our resources in the kingdom of God.

Jesus says don’t store up treasures on earth, because treasure on earth will rot and rust. Jesus did not say don’t pursue treasure: He wants us to have treasure. But He wants us to have treasure in heaven, not on earth.

The American dream says get more: more of everything. The American dream is to have whatever I want when I want it.

There are only two things eternal: the Word of God and the souls of men. Everything that we invest other than the Word of God and the souls of men, we lose eternally. Everything we invest in the Word of God and the souls of men, we gain for eternity.

What about Southern Baptists? What are we doing? Last year, Southern Baptists, out of 12 billion dollars given, gave 2.5 percent to win people to Christ overseas. The other 97.5 percent, we spent here in the United States.

Where you put your treasure is, there your heart will be also. If you find yourself not caring for the nations, maybe if you gave more of your money to the nations, you might find yourself caring more.

Two possible perspectives (6:22-23)

Jesus speaks of a good eye and a bad eye. The good eye is an eternal perspective and the bad eye is a temporal perspective. Jesus is calling us to see with spiritual sight, with eternal perspective. This is not easy to do, because we are here and not there. We are in Kentucky, not Kenya: and so, we don’t see.

If you could go from hut to hut, you would see the desperation and then you would see. In Africa, 6,000 will die today with HIV Aids. In India, there are hundreds of millions who bow down daily before idols. In the Muslim world, some of the most devoted religious fanatics you will ever meet bow down five times a day to pray to a God that doesn’t exist.

These people are like sheep without a shepherd and we must go to them with the message of Jesus, the message of the Gospel.

Two possible masters (6:24)

Jesus talks about two possible masters: money or God. Jesus said it is not possible to serve both God and money. It’s a choice. Who is your master? Either we serve God and we use money or we serve money and we use God.

Southern Baptists are pursuing the American dream and the Lord Jesus is standing in the road, saying stop, don’t go there. Don’t lay up treasures on the earth. Instead, He says lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. How much stuff do you need? How many pairs of shoes? How many guns? How many sets of golf clubs? How many suits?

You say, I am a seminary student. I don’t even own a suit. Well, how many t-shirts do you need?

We must release from the purses, checkbooks and bank accounts of Southern Baptists those resources we need to take the Gospel to the nations.

I am persuaded that we will never have a Great Commission Resurgence until we have pastors leading the members of our churches to be Great Commission Christians.

I have very little hope for my generation: I think my generation has bought into the American dream. But I have hope for your generation. My prayer for you when you graduate is that you will go and put some deep roots down in a church that is in a community, in a town, in a village — and not move up the corporate ladder to a large Southern Baptist church — to work in that church, to work with those finance committees and to fight those battles to mobilize your people to get the Gospel to the nations.

- SBTS Towers Chapel Live Blog

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