|How is this for a Christmas Card!|
Forgotten in the Christmas Story, John the Baptist was a man who came onto the Biblical scene like an F-5 tornado. He speaks to the religious leaders of his day with a clarity and perhaps harshness that we may not be comfortable with today. But he is a crucial bridge from the Old Testament to the New Testament. He is the last Old Testament prophet, and Jesus called him the greatest of the prophets in Matthew 11:11. While I am yet to find a nativity set for sale which includes John the Baptist, John's ministry reminds us that God uses all types of people to accomplish his work. Even someone who lives in the wilderness, wears animals skins, and eats honey covered locus for meals. If John the Baptist came to modern Christmas Eve service, I wonder if our churches would listen to him or tie him up to a tree outside, while they wait for animal control. I think that if he could celebrate Christmas with us today, he would teach us at least three important things to say:
1. Make Jesus the Theme of Your Life!
What is your theme? What do you talk about most of the time? Is it sports, politics, health, family? John talked about Jesus! He talked about other things, but he talked about Jesus the most! My hope is that the Lord would bring us to a place where we are so in love with Jesus that we cannot help but talk about him.
2. Make Jesus the Passion of Your Heart!
John the Baptist is an aggressive guy. He didn't just talk, but he lived passionately for Jesus. His passion was disruptive to the religious goers of his day. With his camp in the wilderness, camel skins, and wild honey and locus on his breath as he screamed "REPENT!" he would have seemed weird to his contemporaries. He would be a fanatic or radical by that days standards. Most of us in 21st century America are not tempted to be fanatics.
Instead we are tempted to do the opposite, and believe a lie. Here is the lie, "If I believe in jesus and I am not getting into trouble I must be spiritually mature." Let us not mistake a clean, reputable life, for spiritual maturity. It could be that the reason we are not getting into trouble is that we are spiritually asleep. If Satan cannot get us to be bad, he will be content to let us be good as long as we are being quite! Once the enemy gives us on dragging you into hell, his Plan B is to let you slip quietly into heaven without a fuss. May the Lord ignite in us a spiritual passion the will not out us settle for a quite, respectable life of spiritual apathy.
3. Make Jesus the Gage of Your Success!
How do you gauge success? Is it a title, position, or things acquired? How would you finish this statement, "My life would be a success if only...."?
John could have measured success by how many people attended his riverside revival meetings, or by how many prodigals he baptized, or by how many Pharisees he ticked off, or by how many times he could publicly call King Herod an adulterer without losing his head.
John was popular among the people and it had to be very tempting of him to gage his success by the size of his following. But in John 3:26, some came to him worried he was losing his influence. His answer is amazing in John 3:30, "He (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less." If we all had this attitude our country, our churches, and our families would be totally different! May God grant us the same theme, passion, and gage for success as John the Baptist!