KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Christians face “a fundamental choice” in life.
“You can choose either to please self or to please God,” said Paige Patterson, president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“Which one of these you choose — as a choice of a lifetime — will determine the success and the blessings of God upon your ministry, or else it will lead eventually to your downfall, to your embarrassment, and yes, even to your humiliation,” Patterson said during a Feb. 11 chapel at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo.
Patterson, president of sister seminary, Southeastern in Wake Forest, N.C., used the story of Samson to challenge students to consider the call of God and the responsibilities it brings.
“Samson’s birth marked a chosen life of great promise,” Patterson said. The angel of God came face to face with Samson’s mother to announce God’s call on Samson’s life, Patterson explained. “He had no question that he was a chosen life of promise.”
Presenting examples from Samson’s carnal lifestyle, Patterson said although the call of God was on his life, Samson unfortunately chose to turn his life into a carnal life of pleasure.
“As a result of his choices,” Patterson said, “the Lord departed from him. You’ll never miss it when the Lord comes to you in power, but he’ll slip away from you so quietly that you’ll never know when he leaves until it’s too late.”
Patterson noted the tragic consequences that resulted from Samson’s compromise with the world for a life of self-interest and applied it to those called by God into ministry. “When you take a chosen life of promise and turn it into a carnal life of pleasure, I promise you, it will end up being a cratered life of pain.”
Comparing two examples from church history, medieval theologian Peter Abelard who died in shame and first-century martyr Polycarp who died in triumph, Patterson said that pastors, evangelists and missionaries have a choice to make. “You’ll end life in one of two ways: either in ignominious shame or else in triumphant testimony of the grace of God in your life. The choice is yours.”
He concluded his message by encouraging students who have compromised the call of God with a sinful lifestyle either to confess their sins and ask a professor to hold them accountable or to leave the seminary.
EDITORS’ NOTE: The names of the people, church and location have been changed in the following story.