Summary: We prepare for Christ’s coming by our daily repentance, and by calling the world to a life of repentance and forgiveness
Most of us know how to prepare for Christmas. We have our shopping lists, and “honey do” lists of when the tree needs to be put up, and the house decorated. It might be stressful, but we will get it done. We also know how to prepare for birthday and anniversary celebrations—even Superbowl Sundays.
The challenge that we have as Christians is how do we prepare for the return of Jesus?
Last Sunday we talked a little about how Jesus was preparing his disciples like teachers prepare their students to survive a fire with fire drills. This Sunday we’ll look further at being prepared. We will do this by focusing on John the Baptist and his ministry.
CALLED BY GOD
At a specific time in history, the word of God came to John in the wilderness. John was called at a specific time for a specific purpose. In response to the word of God, John began his ministry of preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
We, like John, have all been called. One of the most important elements in proper preparation is to understand that each of us has a call from God. We are here at a particular time and place to accomplish a specific ministry. Being prepared is going about our daily lives accomplishing the ministry to which we have been called.
As your pastor, I’m not able to tell you what your specific ministry entails. That is between you and God. I can tell you that most likely your ministry will include the people that you come in to contact with on a daily basis—your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. You may also be called to establish relationships with others—such as our Bridge ministry, or MOPS program, tutoring programs, and other volunteer opportunities.
John proclaimed to the people a message that encouraged them to repent and be baptized. A person has to make changes in order to be prepared for the return of Jesus.
A reality that we all deal with on a daily basis is our dark side. There are parts of us that we are not at all comfortable with, and that we do not want anyone else to know about. We fear that if anyone discovered this side of us that they would run from us in fear. We cannot ignore this dark side of us. If we do, it will come to light at the most inappropriate times. Rather, we need to confront it, acknowledge it, repent—turn away from it—and receive God’s forgiveness.
We need to be aware of our sinfulness and our sins. To brush them off as not important or inconsequential is to be unprepared for the return of Jesus. As the Holy Spirit moves in our lives and makes us aware of those things that do not honor God, it is necessary for us to repent of our sins—confess them, turn away from them, and receive God’s forgiveness.
Thus prepared by confession, repentance, and forgiveness, we can walk with a newness of life as we wait our Lord’s return.
John was called to preach. Few of us have that call. Instead of preaching, most of us are called to be witnesses to God’s love and grace.
We are witnesses in our relationships with others. This does not mean that we corner them and ask them if they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Not at all! It does mean that we share about our walk with God, when it is appropriate and in a loving and sensitive manner. Our witness also includes listening to others and they share their journey.