Warren Webster was the general director of the Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society in 1967. As a former missionary to Pakistan he had been asked to speak at the Urbana Missions Conference that year.
During a question-and-answer session, Webster was asked a provocative question, “What if your daughter falls in love with a Pakistani while you’re on the mission field and wants to marry him?” The questioner clearly anticipated that this would be a racial or ethnic dilemma for Webster. It was only four months before Martin Luther King Jr. was killed and racial tensions were high. But with great forcefulness, Webster said: “Better a Christian Pakistani than a godless white American!”
I appreciate Webster’s clear response – particularly considering the emotionally charged nature of the civil rights era. He understood that the family of God was “first family.” The gospel trumps wealth, vocation, age, gender, political orientation, or ethnicity.
Have we truly grasped the priority of the cross? Are we primarily Americans or Christians? Are we more committed to the familiarity of our own cultural background or the values of the kingdom of God? Would I rather see my daughter marry a godly gas station attendant rather than a wealthy unbelieving banker? What if my son was called to war-torn Sri Lanka? Would I release him for the advancement of the gospel or demand that he remain safely close to home?
Most of us would declare allegiance to Jesus. But all too often, our lives do not reflect gospel priorities. We prioritize safety, security and happiness for our children instead of spiritual maturity and discipline. We spend our retirement years living for ourselves instead of serving others in anticipation of eternal rest. We are more interested in conservative legislation than gospel advance. We prioritize a gym membership but refuse to make a commitment to Christ’s church. May God help us to embrace the life-altering priority of the cross of Jesus Christ!
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/demibrooke/3889857112