Dr. Kevin Parker - 2018

Dr. Kevin Parker serves as a state missionary and director of media services for the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.

God always intended for the ten descriptions of a Baptist New Mexican to serve a purpose beyond knowledge. They described a journey, a person’s transformation from wicked to righteous. Knowing that, I began asking, “What should a person do with these descriptions?”

The idea of describing a Baptist New Mexican emerged from an earlier question: Where does activism fit into the Christian life? I was pondering only one particular activity, wanting to know if it was biblically essential to Christianity. I had heard many diverging answers to that question. But, the confusion created a fog, not the clarity of truth.

I needed to establish how a Christian moved from initial salvation to cultural impact (Christian activism). I needed to know if cultural impact was spiritually natural or merely a distracting, human-generated activity.

In the process of answering those questions, I identified the ten descriptions. They connected elements of Christian living in a manner that addressed their interactions. It also helped others think through Christian living. They, too, grappled with the interactions among the parts. Ultimately, the effort cleared the fog for us both, readers and me.

During my study, I learned much about myself and what God has planned for sinners who believe in and follow Jesus. The answers I found exceeded my original questions. Eventually, I shared my discoveries with you, a reader of the Baptist New Mexican, and others.

Of course, no model of Christian discipleship captures every facet of eternal life emerging in a believer. The ten descriptions of a Baptist New Mexican are similarly insufficient, even though they answer many questions.

For instance, the sequential nature of the descriptions makes sense and is helpful, but Christian living is not entirely linear. Christians often face difficult or troubling life issues before reaching a natural level of spiritual maturity sufficient to address those issues. At such times, God’s Spirit works beyond human processes, limitations and abilities. He enables them to cope, endure and soar. The Holy Spirit, sent by God, helps believers’ navigate their journey when it makes no sense.

The imperfections of models verify that Christianity is more than a philosophy, a logic exercise or a worldview. Beyond those things, it is divine - God’s personal work in people. It is a heavenly work that spiritually regenerates believing humanity damaged or destroyed by sin. Models and descriptions often clarify and illuminate the Christian path, but none completely captures it.

So, what shall we do with the descriptions of a Baptist New Mexican - this helpful but insufficient model of Christian living? I encourage saints and churches to use it to aspire spiritually, to celebrate God’s work and to craft “gapless” disciple-making ministries.

An Aspirational Tool

The ten definitions can prove valuable to a saint’s personal spiritual growth. The model they describe can help saints learn about and examine their journey. Rather than inspection standards that reveal missing pieces, think of the descriptions as a pathway to experiences with God not yet discovered. As tools, they can unlock new works of God. Let them help you aspire spiritually - to want and long for more of God’s visible work in your life. There is more - always.

Learn. Inquire, question, study and learn things you do not know about God’s journey for redeemed sinners. Christians begin that journey without full knowledge of what lies ahead. Perhaps, at first, God wants new believers to learn about Him and discover His presence. If so, the details of a saint’s human journey emerge gradually after that.

Certain parts of the journey occur for every believer. The ten descriptions capture some of those shared parts. Consider each one. Look into Scripture to confirm them and learn more about each one. Space prevented including everything I learned about each description. Dig into Scripture. Discover God’s will and chase it.

The ten descriptions offer more than Christian self-help. God works through each step. He brings the change. The fruit is His. He alone regenerates areas of life damaged by sin.

Examine. Examine the interactions of your spiritual parts. How do the different elements of your Christian walk affect the others? For instance, how is your quiet time influencing your practices of compassion or sharing truth? Spiritual disciplines and activities touch. If you see scant interaction between the parts of your Christian life, ask why. Implement disciplines to integrate the pieces.

Examine your progress. Progress (not position) reflects maturity. Are you still moving toward God’s design, or have you stalled along the way? Did the ten descriptions reveal gaps? Spotting a long-term slowing of spiritual growth or seeing a gap (a missing description) signals a need for revival. Aim to live out all ten descriptions.

Remember:

- Avoid using the descriptions as negative investigative tools.

 -Allow them to shine like flashlights illuminating new opportunities.

- Focus on the “more,” not on the “missing.”

When God saves a person, He both grants forgiveness and ensures eternal life. But, He keeps going beyond those essentials. God also changes repentant sinners into an entirely new creation. The ten descriptions explore that new creation.

Learn. Examine. Aspire spiritually.  There is more - always!

Editor’s Note: This is part one of a three-part series on using the ten descriptions of a Baptist New Mexican. An extended version, not edited for newspaper length, is available online at GoBNM.com.

SN 4700

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