By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Prior to COVID-19, this was held in the Church Support Center in Franklin for the folks who were in the building. When COVID forced businesses, churches and organizations such as the TBMB to stop meeting in person, we turned to technology and continued our weekly meetings. And, it has not changed. The benefit is that it has allowed the entire TBMB staff, some of whom live in different parts of the state, to take an active part.
Last week (Sept. 8), Jay Barbier, youth specialist for the TBMB, gave a brief devotional on the question, “Are you living life with reckless abandon?” Basing his remarks on I John 4:7-11, Jay was asking us if we seriously take to heart the Scriptures which exhort us to love others as Christ loves us? After all, God sent His only Son to die on the cross and take our sins upon Himself.
He referred to former missionary Elisabeth Elliot, who later became a noted author and speaker, who observed at one point: “I have one desire now – to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it.”
It was a great devotional thought and it made me think about my life, especially as it relates to my faith.
Do I live for God with reckless abandon?
According to Merriam-Webster, the phrase “with reckless abandon” means “in a very wild and reckless way.” The word “reckless,” according to the same dictionary, means “marked by lack of caution” or “careless of consequences.”
There are times we need to exercise caution and we cannot ignore the consequences. Driving down the interstate at 90 miles an hour is a good example of “reckless abandon,” but it also is foolish and extremely unsafe.
When I think of “reckless abandon” as it relates to Christians, I can’t help but think of some of the small country pastors I had while growing up in Lima Baptist Church in Travelers Rest, S.C. These were men who made very little money and did not have a lot of material possessions. That did not matter to them because their passion was to serve God and to share the good news of Jesus Christ in the community where they served.
Tennessee is full of pastors who have lived similar lives and share similar stories. They did not seek material possessions. They trusted God to provide for their needs.
I also think of our Southern Baptist missionaries, many of whom gave up the majority of their possessions to go to the place God called them to serve. Not only did they give up their possessions, they left family and friends to go places where, most of the time, people could not speak their language. They had to learn the language used by the people they would eventually witness and share Jesus with. That is an example of “reckless abandon” for Jesus Christ. They cared less about themselves in order to be used by God to reach others for Him.
For the most part, Christians tend to be “soft.” We can get excited for a brief time and go out with “reckless abandon” to work on a disaster relief project or to go for an international mission trip for a couple of weeks.
That does take a passion and love to serve others, but we know at some point we will return home to our air conditioned homes and churches.
Now, before someone misunderstands, let me make it clear that I am not saying that every Christian is called to go overseas and give up everything. There are people who are lost and need Jesus who live next door or across the street.
We need people at home who are ministering and meeting needs in their own community, but do we do it with the same passion and reckless abandon that our missionaries show when they leave home? My guess is that some do. I have friends who are passionate about telling others about Christ and they do it frequently. My guess is that many folks do not. I’m guilty at times. And, if we are all honest, I believe most of us would admit we don’t share Christ as often as we should.
Too often, we are afraid of “offending” someone by sharing our faith or afraid they will think we are “Bible thumpers.” We (myself included) need to get over that.
In April, Steve Pearson, evangelism specialist for the TBMB, reminded us in a column he wrote for the Baptist and Reflector that Tennessee’s population is nearly seven million people. According to him, nearly four million (or 58 percent) of those people are lost, without a relationship with Jesus Christ. He also observed that, according to current statistics, approximately 105 people die daily without knowing Christ as Lord and Savior. That amounts to about 38,000 Tennesseans who die each year without Christ.
If those numbers don’t cause us to act with “reckless abandon” when it comes to sharing our faith, I don’t know what will. May God have mercy on us if we don’t. B&R