Texas Baptists, I have shared privately, and now I thank God for the opportunity to share publicly what an honor it is serve our Lord as a disciple, the New Beginnings Baptist Church as the senior pastor and the Baptist General Convention of Texas as its newly elected first vice president. All three of these roles excite me and overwhelm me at the same time.
To serve our Lord effectively in any capacity of ministry requires a supernatural power that mankind cannot produce. As a matter of fact, we are told that without the Holy Spirit supernaturally empowering us, there is nothing we can do to produce the fruit that Jesus (Son) embodied for us and that God (Father) expects from us (John 15:15). As we prepare to close out 2016 and ring in a fresh, new 2017, as individuals, churches, associations and as a convention, nothing has changed. God still expects fruit from us.
To say we live in a complex, diverse and oftentimes divided culture, church, community and convention is an understatement. However, none of these realities has caught God off guard. Thus, none can be used as an excuse not to be fruitful.
As I have personally accepted the challenge to bear fruit in what appears to be a barren land, I want to share with you and implore you by God’s grace also to accept this challenge and together as a body of believers walking as one body unified for the sole purpose of bearing more fruit together than we can as individuals.
Bearing fruit can be a daunting task. And it is an impossible task if we were left on our own to accomplish it in our own strength. The comforting fact that Christ already has assured us the task is not only desirable but also doable. However, there is a condition associated with the ability to do it.
In John 14:15-16, Jesus says: “If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Helper, and he will be with you forever.” The degree to which we are obedient to the commands of Christ in any situation determines how much supernatural empowerment we receive from the Holy Spirit to be fruitful in that situation. Our obedience to Christ demonstrates our love for God and releases power from the Holy Spirit.
As a convention of believers, let’s be true to God’s commandments in the realities of life, and then we will see the power of Christ manifested in the everyday muddy and sometimes mundane complexities that we oftentimes find ourselves immersed in. There is nothing that can’t be accomplished through obedience.
Joe Fields is first vice president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Church in Lewisville.