Summary: The church is to be on the offensive in preparing the way of the Lord in the lives of people!
Prepare The Way, Luke 3:1-6
There is a story of an Atlantic passenger lying in his bunk in a storm, deathly sick—seasick. A cry of “Man overboard!” was heard. The passenger thought, “God help the poor fellow. There is nothing I can do.” Then he thought at least he could put his lantern in the porthole, which he did. The man was rescued, and recounting the story the next day, he said, “I was going down in the darkness for the last time when someone put a light in a porthole. It shone on my hand, and a sailor in a lifeboat grabbed my hand and pulled me in.” Weakness is no excuse for our not putting forth all the little strength we have, and who can tell how God will use it?
There is great power in the shining of our light to the world around us. Indeed, we must never underestimate God’s ability to multiply our faith and our witness for the ultimate good of others and the ultimate glory of God.
For followers of Jesus, pilgrims on the sojourn of this life, being a witness to the glory of what God has done in your life and what He has done in the world is not a suggestion, but a command. While we each may do this in different ways, it is something which we all must do.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)
“God gave Jesus authority over heaven and earth. On the basis of that authority, Jesus told his disciples to make more disciples as they preached, baptized, and taught. With this same authority, Jesus still commands us to tell others the Good News and make them disciples for the Kingdom.” (LASB)
The primary or central mission or theme of the Church is twofold: to build up believers and to make more believers! The crux of the Gospel oriented Church is to build up the body and to build the body! Our mission is to be completely consecrated to the work of spreading the true religion of Jesus in this world.
The wondrous reality of this mandate given by Jesus to us is that the true religion of Jesus is not religion at all; our mission is the propagation of the radical grace and mercy of God in the lives of broken individuals. It is the spreading of the message that God is at war with the ugly things of this world and that hope, peace, justification, eternal life, mercy, and the unconditioned overwhelming superabundant agape love of the God eternity has come unto us in Christ!
We are not commanded to share our religious tradition, our religious affiliation, even the good things about our religious traditions; we are called to share Christ.
There is a radical difference between inviting someone to church and inviting them to share in that which has affected your life. There is a divergence as vast as the Grand Canyon between sharing religious tradition, even good religious tradition, and sharing the grace of God which has transformed us!
One of the many “buzz words” of church leadership in the modern era is “vision.” Church leaders, Pastors, are taught and encouraged to develop clear strategies for Church growth, plain visions with regard to the specific mission of each local church. There is, to be sure, merit in such discussion.
Churches do need to have a clear mission, church members, I would suggest, reach their greatest potential in Christ and as consecrated servants of the local church when they know what the purpose or mission of the Christian life and the local church is; this is plain.
The truth is, though, that the central themes of the Christian life are not obscure. God has not hidden from us that which He has called us to do. We need not assume the finding of our purpose in Christ to be in any way similar to a divine scavenger hunt!
In today’s text, the mission of John the Baptist, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah is recorded; our mission is a reflection of his. “As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: "A voice of one calling in the desert, "Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.’” (Luke 3:4-6 NIV)