NEW ORLEANS — Roc Collins, strategic objectives director for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, said the source of joy for Christians should never be in question.
“Joy is the overflowing expression of the Lord Jesus living in us,” said Collins while addressing attendees at the 2023 SBC Pastors’ Conference. “When the Holy Spirit sets up residence in our lives, joy is what is produced.”
Collins was among the speakers during the opening session of the 2023 Southern Baptist Pastors Conference on Sunday night, June 11. The conference focused on the Beatitudes that Jesus preached about in the Sermon on the Mount.
Collins gave one of several pastoral talks on character. His focus was joy, which can’t be earned, bought, or manufactured, he said. It’s imparted by the Spirit of God to those who are in Christ.
Not only does joy come from the Spirit, he said, but it supplies our strength. When you have no joy, Collins said, your strength is sapped. It’s gone. “We need to be a people who joy in the Lord and thus we find strength to do what he has called us to do.”
Joy imparted by the Spirit to strengthen the believer is meant to be shared. Joy is full in Jesus, Collins said, but it’s overflowing when we’re with people who share the same joy.
We live in a joyless world, a dark day, a lost time, he said. “This world needs joy, and joy only comes through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said. How will this world know Jesus? How will they experience the fullness of His joy? By seeing it in us, Collins said.
“You need to remember that the world didn’t give you joy,” he said. “People in my community didn’t give me joy. The people in my church didn’t give me joy. The Southern Baptist Convention didn’t give me joy. The government didn’t give me joy. My friends didn’t give me joy. Social media didn’t give me joy.
“But Jesus, Jesus, and Jesus alone has given me joy!”
Evangelist Phil Waldrep, founder of Phil Waldrep Ministries in Alabama, preached on mourning: “Everything in our flesh wants to run from mourning,” Waldrep said, but mourning aligns the heart of a Christian with Jesus’ heart.
Speaking from Matthew 5:4 — “Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted” — Waldrep encouraged pastors to allow mourning to keep them on mission.
“It has been my position that anytime you mourn, Jesus ought to be your example,” he said, pointing to three examples from Scripture when Jesus mourned.
First, Waldrep said, He mourned over individuals. When faced with the grief of Mary and Martha at the tomb of their brother Lazarus, Jesus wept. Yes, his heart went out to the sisters, Waldrep said. But he believes Jesus wept because he saw something deeper than we see when we look at a grave.
Jesus saw that death entered the world because of sin and He wept over its consequences, Waldrep said. In fact, the siblings represent three kinds of people facing the consequences of sin: the helpless, the hurting, and the hopeless. When you mourn like Jesus, you mourn for individuals, he said.
Second, Jesus mourned over a city. When he wept over Jerusalem shortly before his death, he was mourning the corruption of the Sadducees, Waldrep said. The religious leaders lacked firm convictions and were more concerned with money and power. That spirit is prevailing in many churches today, Waldrep said, and he’s learned to know when it’s entering his own heart—when happiness is more important than holiness, or arrogance results in an unwillingness to be accountable.
It can pervade a church when marketing is more important than ministry, he said, or when we’re known more by our politics than our passion for the gospel, or more for being woke than for being a witness.
“Sometimes we get so close to the religious work that our hearts can be far from the heart of Jesus, and we don’t mourn what Jesus mourns,” Waldrep said.
Third, Jesus mourned for the world. In the Garden of Gethsemane just before his arrest, Jesus wept because he saw the world full of people desperately in need, Waldrep said. He saw the condition of their souls and he was broken for the lostness of the world.
“We hear a lot about missions when we come to our convention,” Waldrep said. “But beloved, can I tell you, sometimes I think we’ve lost our burden for the world. We don’t weep for a lost world anymore. And what the world needs is not more of our opinions. The world doesn’t need our philosophy. What the world needs is Jesus. And if we would just show the world Jesus, we might be amazed at what Jesus would do.”
Jesus mourned for individuals, for a city, and for the world, he said. “I want to be one who mourns like Jesus because mourning like Jesus keeps people like me on mission.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — This article is part of the team coverage of Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting and Executive Committee events by staff members from The Baptist Record, Baptist & Reflector, Baptist Message, Illinois Baptist State Association, The Alabama Baptist and The Baptist Paper.