“John [the] Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Mark 1:4
“A happy life is not lived in anger, it is lived in peace and mercy.”
This is definitely a word for someone, I have no idea who, but that is none of my concern. I, like John am simply a messenger, carrying forward words for someone to hear.
John the Baptist, a Jewish prophet, was unpopular amongst the religious elite. He was truthful and righteous and told it like it was, not how it should be. He wasn’t concerned with people’s reaction to him, he was only concerned with relaying the message that God had given him and fulfilling his role as the one who would prepare the way for the messiah, the one that the Jewish people had been waiting for.
John, like Jesus, was not what the people had expected. He didn’t fit neatly into the culture of the time, actually he didn’t fit in anywhere. He had a clear vision and goal from God, was born for that purpose, and did not concern himself with anything else. We mostly hear about John in the shadows of the Lord, but today I hear his message, renounce your sin and you will be forgiven.
In our culture, we don’t like to talk about the unpopular point of view. You are flat-out wrong if your opinion differs from pop culture’s idea of what is right and what is wrong. If you are not guided by a stable, real truth, what do you rely on? I am not quite sure Vanity Fair, Fox News or twitter qualify as vessels for truth.
In a culture of unforgiveness and pain, people believe it is ok to be angry when you feel like it or not forgive someone when you feel like it or indulge yourself in the next best thing because you feel like it; we are swayed by the world’s promises that you can live your life however you choose. But you were not created by yourself for yourself, and I imagine that indulging yourself in cruelties is not bringing you joy, no not at all.
The repentance for the forgiveness of sins has a harsh tone to it and is often preached in a harsh and unloving manner. It is associated most times only with Christianity, the religion of hypocrites, and there is no incentive for those that are seeking the truth of happiness and fulfillment to even look to Jesus for an answer. That view is oftentimes troubling to me, as I reflect on my own life and journey as a Jewish person whose ultimate truth-seeking found me in Jesus’s loving arms. He never scolded me for the things I had done wrong. He loved me in the midst of where I was, the last place a saint would be.
It is a tragedy that so many are looking for ultimate fulfillment in life and cannot find it. It is a tragedy that those who live in truth and peace do not know how to extend a hand to those who are hurting. We are afraid as Christians to offend those who don’t want to hear about Jesus. But I find that it is not so much in the telling then the living that people understand and respond. John made no apologies about the message God placed so deep in his heart. And as believers, we all are aware of our purpose and message that God has placed deep within us.
The humans I encounter day in and day out are in critical condition. I remain silent. I listen and respond when they reach out, and in some cases reach out to them when I know the time is right. I don’t have to preach about Jesus or relate John’s message, I just have to be it by simply reaching out my hand and picking them up off the floor. No words are necessary.
Preach John’s message of repentance by focusing on the forgiveness. In forgiveness there is love and mercy, and repentance is the brother of forgiveness, sure to follow. John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. For the forgiveness of sins. Read Mark 1:4 again, this time with love in your heart.