Saturday, December 12, 2015
It must take an unusual man to perceive that God is at work in his life and that the work is a fulfillment of a prophecy spoken hundreds of years earlier. Or, perhaps, John the Baptist was just being faithful to what God was asking him to do without any awareness that he was fulfilling prophecy. Maybe it was the gift of human hindsight and Spirit inspiration which caused the gospel writers to note that He was the one who was to "prepare the way of the Lord." Regardless of which way we go, it is still obvious that John the Baptist was useful to God.
As we hear the man from the Jordan calling people to repentance, he is calling people to live as those who are going to be useful to God. Some years ago now I read John Irving's novel, "Cider House Rules." While it was a novel addressing the issues around abortion, it was also a story with an undergirding theme. The theme was "Be useful." God's will is for us to be useful for Kingdom work, but that is something which is impossible if are faced toward serving personal ego instead of facing toward God's purposes for our life.
Repentance aligns our life with that purpose. It is a turning point which moves our life in a different direction. It is about more than just turning from one thing that we name as sin to not doing it anymore, but a turning that orients our life to the reason our Creator brought us into being. It is not always an easy choice for many of us to make, but once it is made, life is suddenly lived differently. We become those who make a difference. We become those who are useful to God. And, as we begin to experience this life with God, we also discover that repentance is only a first step which opens a door built by grace and mercy.