What can we learn from the life and example of John the Baptist?
Even the greatest preachers and servants of Christ have their times of doubt and questioning. The beautiful thing about John is that he didn’t try to hide it. Instead he took it to the only one who could deal with it … the Lord himself.
Jesus prefers honesty to certainty. You don’t have to be sure; but you do have to be real. So just come to Him.
Do you remember the dad who came to Jesus and asked he to heal his son. He pretty much believed that Jesus could heal him but could he bring himself to believe that Jesus would. I love his honesty when he cried out, “Lord, help me with my unbelief.” Sometimes we just have to start there. Jesus doesn’t demand some impressive confidence in our prayers; he just invites us to come and be real. Be honest.
The key to church health is not fancy methods, but a rediscovery of our basic message and mission as defined by Jesus. From a public relations standpoint, John the Baptist was a miserable failure. He certainly would win no awards for how he dressed. And his speaking style was less than polished and refined. Yet the power of God was upon him. He had a message that gripped him and God gave him an amazing congregation.
His followers continued to grow because he never wavered from his message. He constantly, habitually pointed people to Christ. Christ and Christ alone was his message.
Fred Smith made a fascinating observation: “One of the great failures of the church is that we often try to accomplish with human systems what only God can do.”
We need to rediscover John’s basic message. What was it? Repent. What does it mean to repent? It’s not only being sorry for sins, it’s turning from our sins.
We cannot be God’s messengers if we make exceptions for popular or powerful people. The best friend we can be to a Herod is to look him in the eye and tell him that he is living in adultery. To act as though it is not wrong because he is in a position of power is to do a great disservice both to him and to God. We have to call sin by its name.
John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ. In other words, he was the preparer for Christ. How do we prepare for the coming of God’s Messiah in our lives and in the lives of others?
Produce fruit (behavior) in keeping with repentance (obedience).