NEW ORLEANS (BP)–To discover God’s higher road, Christians must stop trying to do something for God but determine instead to become someone for God, Thomas Strong, dean of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Leavell College, exhorted a chapel audience of faculty, students and guests.
“The process of becoming someone God has called me to be is not something I have mastered,” Strong confessed. “It is an ongoing process that will not be complete until I meet Jesus face to face.”
From Isaiah 66, Strong described three characteristics of the Christian choosing to take the higher road in his Oct. 23 message:
— First, that person is humble. “He has come to understand his total dependence on God,” Strong said. “We are completely inadequate and all that we have is not enough.”
As an illustration, Strong shared a story about a top seminary graduate who, confident in his achievements, proudly approached the pulpit to give his first sermon. He suddenly forgot his entire message.
“After fumbling awkwardly through some Scriptures and trying unsuccessfully to salvage his sermon, the embarrassed young man finally walked off the platform with his head down. At the end of the service,” Strong continued, “an elderly gentleman approached the broken young pastor and said, ‘If you had gone up the way you came down, you might have gone down from the pulpit the way you came up.'”
— Two, that person is contrite in spirit. “We are broken when we see ourselves as sinners saved by God’s grace,” Strong said.
Strong cited a national survey of cell phone users, saying 25 percent of the portable phones carried are not even activated. Some Christians similarly never grasp the full understanding of God’s grace, he said.
“Will you and I just pretend and be of no value or will we come to the point when we say, ‘Oh God, have mercy on me, a sinner?'” Strong asked.
— Three, that person is reverent before God. “He listens to God speak and then does what God says,” Strong said.
“One of the challenges we face in ministry is we speak so often for God to other people and we forget that God must speak to us first,” Strong added. “Unless we fall down before God and tremble, we have no right to speak to other people.”
Appealing to the seminary students’ and faculty’s desires to not settle for anything less than God’s calling on their lives, Strong concluded his message with the following challenge:
“God wants to do great things in our lives and great things in this city, but he will only move if we become the humble, broken and reverent people God calls us to be.”
Heard is a master of divinity student at NOBTS.