Pursuing the “American Dream,” for many, means making a decent living at a comfortable job and saving for an early retirement, so you can spend your senior years checking exciting activities off your “bucket list” before you die. J.D. Greear, pastor, author and president of the Southern Baptist Convention, calls for a rejection of this typical notion in his new book, “What Are You Going to Do With Your Life?” (B&H Publishing, Oct. 13, 2020). Instead, Greear encourages readers to evaluate their lives in light of eternity and make them count.
In the book, Greear considers Jesus’ radical call to give one’s life away to the greatest cause of all. He shows readers the great value of viewing life from the perspective of eternity and following the Great Commission.
Instead of biding time through the “typical” comfortable existence that characterizes much of American Christians’ lives today, a more meaningful life is possible; Greear writes that “your days have the potential to echo through eternity.”
The book issues a practical challenge to readers who may ask, “Where exactly do I go from here?” Greear presents a number of ideas, but highlights an option to go with the North American and International Missions Boards’ Go2 initiative (go2years.net), which challenges every college student to spend the first two years after graduation living on mission as a part of a church planting team in North America or around the globe.
“We challenge our college graduates to let the mission of God be the most significant factor in determining where and how they pursue their careers,” Greear said. “Give us two years and we’ll change the world.”
Greear’s book is not just for students, however. He urges every member of this generation of Christians to take responsibility for this generation of souls, all over the world, and calls for each follower of Jesus to discover his or her purpose in that task. In the words of Count Zinzendorf, founder of one of the largest mission movements in history, he urges this generation of Christian to make their life’s goal to “Preach the gospel, die and be forgotten.”
“To trade the cause of Christ for material comforts is to sacrifice the eternal on the altar of the temporary,” Greear said. “When the inevitable moment of your transition into eternity comes, are you going to enter rich toward God, or completely impoverished because you were so focused on checking off your bucket list? The bottom line? Kick your bucket list.”
Greear emphasizes the need to submit every area of life to God’s purpose, including maintaining a solid work ethic in a secular profession, and considering whether one’s career can be pursued in a locale where unreached people groups live. He teaches that all Christians do have a “calling,” a purpose in the world as part of the Great Commission, not just those going into vocational Christian ministry. “The call to leverage your life for mission was included in the call to follow Jesus,” Greear says. “When you accepted Jesus, you accepted the call to mission.” .
The theme of “What Are You Going to Do With Your Life?” is inspired by John Piper’s May 2000 sermon to college students when he stated, “don’t waste your life.” Greear was a student, and with many points to it a life-changing event.
“I had just returned from serving for two years as a missionary in Southeast Asia and had entered graduate school” Greear writes. “I was trying to figure out what God wanted with the rest of my life. I could feel the allures of comfort, stability, and the American Dream calling my name. Piper’s message hit my heart like a lightning bolt. … The idea is simple: Eternity is real. The gospel is true. People’s souls matter. Your life counts. Don’t waste it.”
Currently serving as the 62nd president of the Southern Baptist Convention and as pastor of Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N. C., Greear is author of numerous books, including “Above All: The Gospel Is the Source of the Church’s Renewal” (2019) and “Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved” (2013), both published by B&H.
The congregation at Summit Church has grown from 400 to more than 12,000 in weekly attendance since Greear became pastor. Because of his belief in the power of the gospel, Greear has led the Summit to set a goal of planting more than 1,000 gospel-centered churches in the next 40 years.
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J.D. Greear is currently serving as the 62nd president of the Southern Baptist Convention and is pastor of one of the fastest-growing churches in North America, Summit Church, which is located in Raleigh-Durham, N. C. The congregation has grown from 400 to more than 12,000 in weekly attendance since Greear became pastor. Because of his belief in the power of the gospel, Greear has led the Summit to set a goal of planting more than 1,000 gospel-centered churches in the next 40 years.
Greear holds a PhD in systematic theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also lived and worked among Muslims in Southeast Asia for two years and wrote “Breaking the Islam Code.” He is the author of several other books, including “Above All: The Gospel Is the Source of the Church’s Renewal” (2019); “Not God Enough: Why Your Small God Leads to Big Problems” (2018); “Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches That Send” (2015); “Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary” (2011); “Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved” (2013); and “Jesus, Continued … Why the Spirit Inside You Is Better Than Jesus Beside You” (2014).
Greear lives with his wife, Veronica, and four children in Raleigh, N.C.
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