Luke 3:4 One crying in the wilderness…Prepare the way of the Lord… Who is the one crying and how must one prepare to receive the Messiah? The Gospels record the messenger as John the Baptist, the audience was the chosen people of God, and the message was repentance. Lately, I have felt as though this message is being preached to me anew. I stand with a crowd of believers, much like John the Baptist preached to, who were raised in the knowledge of God. Yet, without a doubt knowing that I am saved by Christ, I still am puzzled by this voice proclaiming repentance, and I find myself asking, “What shall I do?”
According to historians, life for the Jews in this epic time of Christ’s walk on Earth was one of servitude. Judaic communities lived a life of poverty and brevity at the unmerciful hands of Romans and labored under an impoverished spirit of fear and distance from God at the collaborating hands of the Jewish religious leaders. I ponder the similarity of the political climate then and the so-called, religious freedoms we have today. Of course, we are not rounded up, jailed, or impaled at the whim of a despot simply because we are Christians. I am disturbed however, by the more insidious silencing of Christian voices by the few who often are approved by our own executive, legislative, and judicial leadership. I also wonder if our spiritual leaders today are stepping as gingerly as I on the thin ice separating faith from politics. Will the plunge be a baptism with the Holy Spirit or with fire?
Interestingly enough, John the Baptist’s answer to “What shall we do,” was pragmatic and specific to the one asking the question. So what am I asking? Certainly, it makes little sense for me to ask that others change more to my own opinion or understanding. Even more crazy would be to ask that I be given some miraculous power to change the laws of the land with a ball point pen. No, the call to repentance was not given to me for that other guy, so I must make another sweeping examination of my need be changed. What has crept into my daily routine distracting my attention from meditating on God’s word? When have I missed an opportunity to speak truth in love, and why have I backed down in the face of dissension? More specifically, who have I shortchanged or taken advantage of – yes, when driving, when standing in line, and when reaching for the last sale item on the store’s shelf? This self-examination is not an effort in preparing me to be good enough for the Lord’s mercy and grace. In fact, this work in my heart is not even of my own doing, but comes about through the work of the Holy Spirit given to us by Christ Jesus.
Repentance that answers the question, “What shall I do,” serve as a reminder to self to practice a changed heart in keeping with unending gratitude to the King of Kings.
Psalm 35:9, 10 And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; It shall rejoice in His salvation. All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like You, Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, Yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?