Brunson: Focus on Jesus Christ’s pre-eminence

ORLANDO, Fla.?Preachers today are like Richard the Lionheart, who in 1191 could not win a victory of his own, but instead compromised with his enemy, according to Florida pastor Mac Brunson in his convention sermon June 16 to messengers at the SBC annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, recounted that Richard the Lionheart, king of England, could not re-take Jerusalem from his Muslim counterpart, Saladin, during the Third Crusade after he angered all his allies over differences in how to display his flag. Left to fight alone, Richard eventually negotiated with the enemy to open the city for every faith, disguised himself and fled to Austria.

“I’m afraid that in our convention and across the ministry today we are far better preachers at battling one another than at battling our enemy,” Brunson said.

Describing a biblical confrontation in John 3 when two disciples were baptizing in the Jordan River and a “debate” arose, Brunson noted that even the disciples had competition and dissension.

Brunson cited a study by Kenneth Chafin, a late seminary professor and pastor, who said he discovered pastors “tend toward the negative, they are highly competitive, and they don’t like preachers.”

Meeting with a leading evangelist recently, Brunson said he was told some pastors would rather hear that a fellow pastor had fallen from ministry than about individuals putting their trust in God.

“There is something happening among pastors today that absolutely has the watching world astounded, the devil laughing and our almighty God grieving,” Brunson said. And in the same way, he said, the disciples “were jealous, they were annoyed, they were upset, and it was all because they had begun to focus on themselves instead of the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ.”

It’s interesting, Brunson said, how John the Baptist refocused their priorities.

After John had already pointed the disciples to Christ, Brunson said they returned to him and said, “Our crowns aren’t here, we are not mentioned in Baptist Press as much as we used to, we don’t get as many hits as we used to, nobody’s coming to us, and they’re getting more attention in that ministry over there.”

At that point John says, “There must be a focus on the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ,” Brunson said.

Looking at 1 Corinthians 3, Brunson said there must be a focus on the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ likewise in each person’s life.

Understanding that salvation is based solely on God’s grace, Brunson said all of what he has in ministry has been given to him by God as well.

Sharing a word picture from John 3:29 of a best man putting a bride’s hand into her groom’s hand in a marriage ceremony, Brunson said he knows, as a pastor, he is not the bridegroom but just the best man.

Problems begin when believers take their eyes off of Jesus, Brunson said.

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