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Overcome barriers to reach world, First Baptist, Dallas, pastor says


FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–The most racially segregated hour of the week is 11 a.m. on Sunday, representative of a barrier Christians must overcome to reach the world for Christ, said Mac Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, in chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“Are we willing to step over this barrier of race in order to reach people for Jesus Christ — people who are racially different than we are?” Brunson asked Nov. 23 at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus. “Are we willing to do that? Are we willing to reach out and touch them and let them know that we love them and care for them and meet them where they are racially?”
Using the Mark 5 story of Jesus’ healing of Jairus’ daughter, Brunson, a Southwestern alumnus, described other barriers Christians must overcome, including position, tradition, culture, society and interruption.
Brunson noted troubling comments he has heard from young people who want to be pastors. One man who is preparing to attend seminary told Brunson he wanted to be a pastor “because I want to be in charge.”
When others say they want to pastor a mega-church, Brunson said he tells them “go out there and mega-work then if that’s what you want to do.
“This isn’t a profession, this isn’t a career, this is a calling. God has called us to touch a hurting world for the cause of Jesus Christ,” Brunson said.
“You’ve got to get over this concept of position if you’re going to touch people for the cause of Christ,” he said.
On cultural barriers, Brunson noted the unprecedented mix of cultures in America and asked, “Are we willing to go into these people’s culture and reach them where they are, not drag our culture into it, but take Jesus in there?”
Though he focused on the healing of Jairus’ daughter, Brunson also mentioned the other stories in Mark 5 in which Jesus touched people’s lives.
“He desires us to join him in touching a hurting humanity for the cause of the kingdom,” Brunson said.
Mark 5 gives several examples of Jesus going against Jewish tradition, Brunson said, including going to a cemetery, touching the unclean and talking to a woman in public.
“If you’re going to touch a hurting world for Jesus Christ, some traditions are going to have to go,” Brunson said.
He also challenged Christians to reach a new social group emerging, “the electronic underclass and the informationally disenfranchised” — defined as those who do not have access to information.
Mark 5 is also a series of interruptions that Jesus dealt with, Brunson said.
He recounted an experience on an airplane when he wanted to read a book, but a woman next to him wanted to talk. At the end of the flight, he remembered, she pulled out a card and identified herself as vice president of a large pharmaceutical company and said that medicine for mission trips was a telephone call away.
“God spoke to me and he said, ‘If you’ll just let me interrupt you once in awhile, I may be able to get something done through you,'” Brunson said. “Are you willing to be interrupted in order to touch hurting people for the cause of Jesus Christ?”
In the Mark 5 story, some people were encouraging Jairus to forget about Jesus because Jairus’ daughter was dead. Brunson said Christians must overcome this kind of “fickle faith.”
“In your studies, in your work, in your churches, wherever you are, in your struggle, if it’s dead and you just write Jesus out of it, you ought to just board it up and go home,” Brunson said. “But if you want to figure Jesus into it, I don’t care if it is dead, he majors in resurrection.”
Jesus is saying “stop listening to all these other voices, listen to me, faith it, believe,'” Brunson said.
Obedience to Christ is also necessary for Christians to minister effectively, Brunson said.
“We’re going to have to become obedient to the one who overcomes if we want to touch a hurting world for the cause of Jesus Christ,” Brunson said.
Obedience doesn’t mean working in one’s own power, Brunson said, but allowing God to work through us.
On a recent mission trip to the Ukraine, Brunson took his family, including Will, his 11-year-old son. His son’s interpreter told him that Will led a 90-year-old Ukrainian man to Christ.
After the man prayed to receive Christ, the interpreter said, he looked up and with tears streaming down his face said, “For 70 years I lived through communism, … I always knew there was a God, but I never knew who he was. … Now God has sent this little boy to tell me that his name is Jesus.”
“If God can take an 11-year-old preacher’s kid halfway around the world through a language barrier, cultural barrier, racial barrier to lead a 90-year-old man to Christ,” Brunson said, “I’m telling you he can use you to reach this world.”