Stetzer: Get your hands dirty, keep your heart clean

HOUSTON  “I want you to have more bad friends.”

That’s the advice Ed Stetzer gave the 383 gathered for the Acts 1:8 SENT Conference: to “live sent” and make sure their social circles include people who do not know Jesus Christ. Stetzer, director of Lifeway Research and missiologist in residence, was the keynote speaker at the fourth annual conference held at Houston’s First Baptist Church April 17-18.

He said Satan tells Christians they cannot live sent and remain holy. But, Stetzer countered, “You cannot live sent and act Amish.”

Stetzer drew his comments primarily from Philippians 3:20 but reminded the audience of Jesus’ proclamation to his disciples following his resurrection: “As the Father has sent me, I also send you.”

“Sentness is inherent to who God is. He is a sender,” Stetzer said.

Christians can begin to live with a sense of “sentness” when they remind themselves that this “fallen and hostile” world is not their home and their loyalty belongs to a king in a faraway land.

Living for the king means being obedient to his call to go. The Acts 1:8 SENT Conferences are designed to encourage and equip those loyal to the call. Participants at the two-day conference had more than 40 workshops from which to choose, some offered in Spanish. Facilitators offered counsel for those preparing for international missionary work and others looking for encouragement in going across their hometown streets and inviting unreached apartment residents to join a Bible study.

Stetzer told the mission-minded group that they were citizens of a “transplanted colony of Heaven.”

“Living sent,” he said, “isn’t about avoiding bad people but living for a good king.”

God does not call Christians to disassociate themselves from the world but from ungodly believers (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).

On the other hand, believers’ spiritual fortitude can be strained to the point of ambivalence toward sin if care is not taken.

Stetzer warned, “We have become a little too comfortable in the world.”

Quoting 1 Peter 1, Stetzer reminded Christians they are to live as strangers?not so much that they appear strangely different but so much so that they live differently.
Churches are full of people who look different from the world but do not behave out of the ordinary. This type of Christian practice is apparent in a recent survey conducted by a Texas Tech University professor who noted that church attendance and economic conditions are counter-cyclical: When the economy is in the tank, people are in the pews. As the economy recovers, people’s need for God wanes.

“Kind of leaves you in a quandary of what to pray for right now,” Stetzer quipped.

Ultimately, he concluded, Christians should pray for God to “shake us loose so we are not comfortable here.” At the end of the day, he said, we have to yearn for something different.

As Christians live in loyalty to their king and longing for his return, they are to live under the lordship of Jesus Christ. In the end, Jesus has to return to set all things right, but in the meantime sent Christians and sent churches must live by the Lord’s agenda.

Churches filled with emotional experiences but lacking depth of spiritual growth will not last, he argued, noting he would rather watch such emoting on the Oprah television show than in the church. Sent churches, Stetzer said, are “biblically faithful, culturally relevant, counter-culture communities for the kingdom of God” who are sanctified for service in a dirty world.

“Get your hands, not your heart, dirty for God.”

TEXAN Correspondent
Bonnie Pritchett
Most Read

More state conventions join NAMB in Send Network partnerships

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – The North American Mission Board (NAMB) has, in recent years, developed Send Network agreements with state conventions across North America to enhance partnership and church planting within the SBC. So far, 23 state …

Stay informed on the news that matters most.

Stay connected to quality news affecting the lives of southern baptists in Texas and worldwide. Get Texan news delivered straight to your home and digital device.