He has showed you, o man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8) (NIV)

In this verse, the prophet Micah caught the essence of biblical ethics, even foreshadowing the essence of Christ’s life and teaching – to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Dr. T. B. Maston, who founded the Christian Ethics department at Southwestern Seminary and taught there from 1925 to 1963, loved to quote 1 John 2:6 – Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did (NIV). The discipline of Christian Ethics seeks to teach us how to walk as Jesus walked.

Christian Ethics, as an academic discipline, is ignored by most Christian universities and seminaries today. Is it any wonder that our society likewise ignores it as a way of living? Christian ethics – biblical ethics – are inconvenient. It is easier to talk about Jesus than to live like Him. It is easier, in fact, to mouth His words than to live them. But live them Jesus did – and He challenged, indeed commanded, us to do the same.

In his short but unyielding epistle, James refused to let us off the hook with a cheap and easy grace. Show me your faith without deeds, he proclaimed, and I will show you my faith by what I do. . . . As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:18b, 26) (NIV)

As are many Texas Baptists, I’m excited about TexasHope 2010. I love Randel Everett’s emphasis on concentric circles of concern – that evangelism starts where we are, with those who we know and who know us . . . that it starts in real relationships. But that brings us right back to what James said about faith without works. Let’s not kid ourselves – if people don’t see Christ in our lives, they won’t hear Christ in our words.

Christian Ethics should have a central place in every Baptist university and every Baptist seminary. But it shouldn’t be limited to academic settings. Christian Ethics should be central to the proclamation of the Gospel from every pulpit. If we Texas Baptists were to strive to better understand the ethical challenges of the Gospel, it would change our lives. Walking as Christ walked – in a life committed to justice, mercy, and humility in relationship with the Father – would change our relationships . . . the way we do business . . . the way we deal with the critical issues of our day . . . and the way we look at the world around us.

This month, those of you in West Texas have a priceless opportunity . . . no, make that two priceless opportunities – on April 13-14 in Abilene and April 27 in Brownwood – to hear serious discussions about living out biblical ethics in facing the challenges of today’s world.

On April 13-14, the annual T. B. Maston Lectures in Christian Ethics will be held at Logsdon Seminary on the campus of Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. The T. B. Maston Lectures are named after the late Baptist ethicist who spent his life calling Christians, especially his fellow Baptists, to live out the radical demands – ethical imperatives – of the Gospel, which he exemplified with his own life. Dr. Maston pioneered the study of Christian Ethics among Baptists.

The speaker will be Dr. Emmanuel McCall, pastor of Fellowship Group Baptist Church in East Point, Georgia. Dr. McCall also serves as adjunct professor at McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University; and vice president of the Baptist World Alliance.

Dr. McCall will speak at 7 p.m., Monday, April 13, in Logsdon Chapel; and 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, April 14, in Behrens Auditorium. The theme of Dr. McCall’s lectures will be Neither Jew Nor Greek. They are free and open to the public.

The Lectures will be preceded by an undergraduate Christian Ethics retreat, to be held from Sunday evening through Monday morning; and then a Monday afternoon session led by Dr. Rob Sellers, professor of missions ministry, Logsdon School of Theology; and Dr. Rick McClatchy, coordinator of Texas Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. The afternoon session will focus on the relationship of missions to ethics.

On April 27, the annual Currie-Strickland Distinguished Lectures in Christian Ethics will be held on the campus of Howard Payne University in Brownwood. The Currie-Strickland Lectures are named in honor of Dr. David R. Currie, executive director, Texas Baptists Committed; and in memory of Dr. Phil Strickland, longtime director of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission.

The speakers will be Dr. Bill Tillman, T. B. Maston Professor of Christian Ethics, Logsdon Seminary; and Dr. Jim Denison, Theologian in Residence, Baptist General Convention of Texas, and former pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church, Dallas. The theme of the lectures will be Ethics and Evangelism and the Problem of Hunger.

The lectures will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Monday, April 27, at Howard Payne University. They are free and open to the public.

I urge you to take advantage of opportunities like this. You will learn, you will grow, and you will be changed.