Jarrett Stephens prayed for his brother to come to know Jesus for 17 years, and in 2013, he got the joy of baptizing him.
“What brought him to Jesus wasn’t convincing apologetics, it wasn’t convincing arguments, it wasn’t creative sermons or clever witnessing,” said Stephens, pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church in northwest Houston. “You know what it was? It was love. It was God’s love for him, the love of a family, the love of a local church.”
Love was the topic of Stephens’ pastoral talk, the first of nine short pastoral talks to be given in conjunction with the eight sermons at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention Pastors Conference, held June 11–12 in New Orleans.
Speaking from Galatians 5:22, Stephens pointed out that love is the first fruit of the Spirit named in Paul’s list.
‘The supreme virtue’
“Love — it’s the supreme virtue; it’s the chief mark of a follower of Jesus,” he said. “If we are to truly know Him, if we are truly walking with Him, we will love others. … If you want to know whether you’re reflecting the character of Christ or not, this is the first question you can ask yourself: ‘Am I growing in love?’ ”
Stephens asked those present if someone was to ask their family or church staff or look at their last 10 or 15 social media posts, would what was discovered reflect the character of Christ?
“I want to encourage you pastors and church leaders, I want to encourage us as Southern Baptists — let us walk with Jesus in such a way that we are growing in love,” Stephens said. “Let us live surrendered to the Holy Spirit so He can produce much fruit, much love in our lives.”
When that happens, “we can step back and … watch God use us to change the world,” he said.
To see more photos from this portion of the Pastors Conference, click here.