Imagine for a moment, that you could invite John the Baptist to your church service on Sunday morning. I think we would have to form a comittee to get this approved from the elders, because have you read about John?
He had no formal training. To be honest, he was very different to our modern day pastors and churches in the culture we see around us. He did not have the torn jeans, comb over look or black leather jacket, sitting at a coffee shop preparing sundays message that will blow the socks off the congregants. In our culture today the world exalts popularity, image and the feel good motivational messages. How would John stack up today?
He wore a camels hair garment brought together with a raw leather belt, had long, matted hair and his diet consisted of locusts and wild honey (Matt. 3:4). His opening sermon message bound to grip the attention of his audience … “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Luke 3:7).
Would many churches invite him?
I love John, he wore his heart on his sleeve in a sense, he said what was true and John had nothing whatsoever to do with the kingdom of this world and the worldly pleasures around him! His only focus was on the kingdom of heaven and the very King who was about to appear. He was completely devoted to his task.
We go on to read, John 1:19-28 “Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders[c] in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”
They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”[d]
Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
“I baptize with[e] water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
I think for us to be effective in our ministry and calling we need to be like John and realize this simple truth HE>i (HE IS GREATER THAN I)
So here are 3 handles to help.
I rember as a young teenager, going into my youth pastors office and on his computer screen, were the words that scrolled across (coz that was cool for those computers in that day and age), were these words, “God can do it without me” I never really understood this until Jesus really captured my heart. The world wants you to see yourself as the man of the moment, look at all you have accomplished, wow, standing ovation. But genuine prophets, like John, don’t call attention to themselves, except to admit, “I’m just an unworthy slave. Jesus is the only worthy Master. Follow Him!” He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. I truly believe that having a healthy view of who you are will certainly give you the right view of your calling in ministry. All our energies and motivations should be clear in who we are and who Jesus is.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.
C. S. Lewis
2. When we’re clear on who we are in God’s kingdom, we can effectively point others to Christ.
I love how one author puts this into perspective, “He wasn’t trying to hang onto them for himself or to build a following or a legacy to “John the Baptist Ministries International.”
John’s motto was (John 3:30), “He must increase, but I must decrease.” It’s a good rule to keep in mind when you get a chance to talk about the good news of the Gospel.
John 1:29-42 We see that John confesses he is not the messiah,
V29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’
36 As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” 37 When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus.
He was like the best man at a wedding. It certainly is an honor to be chosen as “best man.” But the best man does not get the bride. According to Jewish custom, the best man’s role was to bring the bride to the bridegroom, and then make a tactful exit. And John found joy in this. “My joy is now full. He must increase and I must decrease.”
John Piper says this:
“The Bridegroom is getting all the attention. The cameras are flashing all in that direction. The rice is all flying in that direction. The honeymoon is in that direction. And nobody glances back at the silenced voice sitting on the church steps. The voice of the Bridegroom, the voice of the Shepherd, has replaced the voice crying in the wilderness. And in a few months, the sword of Herod will absolutely silence John’s voice (see verse 24). And John’s response to this — to this diminishing, this decreasing? This great joy of mine is now complete (verse 29).
John easily proclaimed Christ and his disciples left him. John knew his role, he knew who his King was. Sometimes we miss the boat, we get upset, when we don’t have enough ‘likes’ on our posts, or enough instragram or twitter followers, or our followers are following others, or when other churches are full, and not coming to our church. I think we have missed the point of what we are truly called to do, be a witness for Him, and make disciples who make disciple. Not our disciples but disciples of Christ.
3. Dont seek the approval of the world
We are humans who seek the approval of the world. We all do it. We want to be noticed in this life. I once heard a teenager say that when he walks into the mall, he feels as if every eye is on him during the whole time he is at the mall. I think of reality stars, with cameras following them all around, or even us on FB Live or a small instagram video, we are live all the time in people lives, and our social media pages public for the world to see, wanting to impress.
I love my wife’s theme these last few months, “an audience of one” This is what Jesus declared:
John 5:41-44 “Your approval means nothing to me, 42because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. 43For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. 44No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God.
Jesus knew the audience of one, and what He came to do. Many did not understand Jesus’ decisions or why He went to different geographical locations or who He spent time with.
“Everyone is looking for You,” the disciples blurted after finding Jesus. Why did the people want Jesus? They wanted THEIR physical needs met.
But note how Jesus responded—and more importantly, why:
Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for. —Mark 1:38
What or who’s priorities are you living out? I always come back and check my motivation. Does it want to please man? Or Jesus? Jesus knew the will of the Father. If you are living in step with the Spirit and making Jesus your priority then it will be crystal clear. If not maybe draw closer, in relationship, get back to prayer and time with God by getting stuck in His Word.
Always a challenge for us all but worth it!