JACKSON, Tenn. – Feb. 22, 2012 – Titles and influence in this world will not last, but worship will endure, Tennessee Baptist Convention President Fred Shackelford said to an auditorium full of Union University students Feb. 17.
“There is still time to connect if you remember that much of this life, much of the stuff in this life will turn to dust,” he said. “Worship will be remembered. Worship will be continued long after this place.”
Shackelford, pastor of Springhill Baptist Church in Paris, Tenn., spoke in the chapel service he once regularly attended as a Union student. To illustrate how short-lived prestige is, Shackelford shared about his time at Union and how he felt upon returning just a few years after his graduation in 1999.
He said while he was a student, he was involved in Student Government Association and a fraternity and was fairly well known around campus. But upon returning just two years after graduating to visit his brother, Shackelford was amazed that the student body no longer recognized him.
“I remember thinking that I was something,” he said. “I think about that, and I kind of laugh now because I also remember how short lived all of that was.”
Shackelford said this experience showed him how finite things had shaped his identity.
However, he said there is an action that has eternal value: worship.
Shackelford gave an example from Matthew 26 of how worship lasts, when the woman broke an alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over Jesus, ultimately preparing him for burial.
He said three elements of her act of worship — that it was all out, impractical and grateful — could be applied to daily worship that will have an impact beyond each person’s years on this earth.
Worship must not be half-hearted, Shackelford said, noting that everything the woman had of value she poured onto Jesus.
“If you want your life to last, you’ve got to go all out,” he said. “None of this half-way stuff. None of this worship on Sunday at church or hearing it in chapel but complete selfishness and no thought of God all the time.”
Shackelford added that worship should also be impractical and sometimes not make sense to other people. Yet he urged the audience to keep on worshiping with whatever God put on their hearts no matter what others say about it.
“Worship, real worship is impractical,” he said. “When you live a life that rejects the expectations of this world … of big salary and big success … of keeping everything you have until you die, when you do that … there will be people around you who see it as incredibly impractical.”
Worship should spring from gratefulness, Shackelford said, and added that a problem with worship is most often a problem with gratitude.
He explained that the woman in Matthew gave all she had because she was “unspeakably grateful” for what she knew Christ was about to face — crucifixion for her sake.
“We already know how he sacrificed his own life to bridge that immeasurable gap, that huge void of sin, between us and God,” Shackelford said. “We know the abuse that he took. We know the pain that he suffered. We know the blood that was shed for us. How can we not be grateful?”
Shackelford closed by saying that many have become too preoccupied with their lives on earth and they have forgotten to worship, the one action that will last beyond their lives and will not turn to dust.
“Selflessly extravagant worship is eternal,” he said. “Why? Because Christ is eternal. Any worship that we give him in this life is just a shadow of the worship that we will give him in eternity.”
Audio from Shackelford's chapel address is available at www.uu.edu/audio/detail.cfm?ID=640.
By Whitney Jones (’12)