A STRANGE PREACHER
“What an odd-looking duck!” He looked more like a wild animal than a man, with all that camel’s hair wrapped around him and tied with leather strips. When he got hungry, he would go out in the fields, catch some grasshoppers, and stick his hand into a hole in a tree or a rock to pull out some sweet honey. He would roast the locusts and pop them into his mouth in the manner in which we might eat popcorn.
He was about 30 years old…..old enough to know better, old enough to be married. But what woman in her right mind would want to marry him?
What if this odd duck tried to come into our church? Heaven forbid! It’s hard enough to get our teenagers to dress up for the services, without having an adult-like this guy as an example.
If we were perfectly honest with ourselves, we know that we probably wouldn’t want to invite such an undesirable man as this guy is to our services. But we couldn’t make the excuse that we didn’t know he was around. Anyone that different would be well known in the community. How would we treat him if he did come to our services? Would it matter that his inner spiritual life was in tune with God, even though his outer appearance did not show it? What if he were to take communion with us? Or, even serve it to you?
Maybe, at this point, we should look at the authority on such matters – the Word of God.
Look at what is recorded in Hebrews 13:2: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” But, how could this man be an angel? Let’s look further, now in John 7:24: (By the way, these words are in RED, and we all know what that means. This is Jesus speaking! “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” It was this difficult to look at, hermit type of guy, strange and weird in the eyes of those who encountered him, who God chose to be the forerunner to announce the coming of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, and the Head of the Church. Does that cause us to think ---- maybe we’d better let him in?
This man is John the Baptist, but probably none of us would have chosen this man for this purpose. And our reluctance to accept him is because we often are blinded by appearances. But there is a world of difference between how we do things and how God does things.
God knew John would become a great witness for Him. He knew He could use John in great and powerful ways to bring people to Christ. So, God began to develop John for the work He had for him to accomplish.
God gave John a challenge. The challenge was given even before John was born. God prepared John great in his witness. He will be moral; he will be spiritual; he will turn many to the Lord; he was the one who prepared the way for another to come – one who would be even greater than John.
God gave John a commitment as he matured. He committed himself to be great in the sight of God only. He resisted being seen as great in the sight of men, saying, “He (Jesus) must increase, I must decrease.”
The people gave John a chance. They looked beyond his ragged clothes and weird behavior. They came to hear him, recognizing the John was obviously filled with dedication to God.
John elevated God and His will and suppressed his own will. John’s purpose was to turn the spotlight on Jesus, not on himself. He wanted the people to know that he was just a voice, but Jesus is the POWER!
People gathered wherever John went to speak. It wasn’t for the spectacular things he was doing, but it was because of his preaching. The message John preached was not watered down, and he never attempted to tickle their ears, saying only what they wanted to hear.
He was known as John, the Baptizer because of all the immersions he was doing as people responded to his message. He didn’t just suggest that it would be a good thing to do. It was required because it was the right thing to do.
John’s preaching was not “emotional” preaching geared to provoke tears or to force people to make decisions for the sake of numbers. His preaching called for repentance – real, genuine repentance. He talked about repentance before he ever talked about heaven or baptism. He wasn’t about to pass out baptismal certificates unless repentance had already taken place.
Using the example of John’s ministry, it is time for people to flock to the services to hear the Word of God, fearlessly preached again. In so many churches these days “feel good” messages are heard, giving people a false sense of security concerning their salvation. Too often the concern is that people must be catered to, and their preferences are satisfied.
People in the pew today need to be challenged to hear from God. We need a commitment to our God, understanding that He is greater than His creation – us. Our goal must be to lift up Jesus Christ as Lord, rather than depend upon the temporary things of the world, which so often draw our attention from Him.
Gary’s Wednesday WordPrinceton Christian Church18 August 2021