Scripture: John the Baptist: “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand….But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism (John) said to them: ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.
(And) Do not presume to say to yourselves “We have Abraham as our father…” for I tell you God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham….” Matt 3:2 and 7-9
Observation: John the Baptist is a pill. Who could get away with preaching like this and not be thought of as craaazzzy? This is who: someone who has sought deeply in the Doctrines of God (including the Gospel) and is cultivating the presence of the Sovereignty of He who saves.
Application: Yep, Cousin John is a pill.
I wonder if Jesus cringed at John’s delivery at times. “Goodness, John: Could you tone it down just a little? I am trying to convince them to give up their wayward ways…”
Nah, probably not: Jesus might have just nodded and thought: “Good job serving Dad, buddo.”
There are some folks in my past that got all into the “condemnation” type of preaching. They liked being the image of the OT prophets with the “You brood of vipers” type of thinking and delivery. But is that a valid characterization to imitate? More than likely not.
The Gospel is a bunch of things to this world. What the Gospel isn’t is a “live and let live” message.
The Gospel calls the folks of this world to a counter cultural way of life. One based on God as Supreme and none based on a shared prerogative of respect of choice; that is: I can do whatever I think is OK and God respects that and orchestrates physical reality to my benefit.
Heady words. Sorry, it is the way I think. Let me break in down a bit.
John said two things of note: “Who warned you about the Wrath to Come” and “Not only repent but bring results of repentance (Bear Fruit).”
The “Wrath to come” reference is still a valid statement for today. The Gospel is about the Wrath to come; it is not about acting morally. The Gospel is about recognizing who I am in the View of Holiness and acknowledging deserving His Wrath (Need of Justification). Repentance is getting (among other things) mentally serious concerning Sanctification.
Being a Disciple of Christ is counter to the ways of this world. Fact. The world does not operate as a reflection of the Kingdom.
Another fact: the process of Sanctification is a long term project only finished at That Day when sight replaces faith. My job? To keep at it day by day, as long as it is called Today.
After all, I am neither an OT prophet to get away with condemning anyone, nor do I want to be a snake, hiding in the fringes of the Kingdom. I want to be a servant in His House proclaiming the Kingdom.
PS: the proclamation of the Kingdom is practiced, polished and improved in His house (the Local Church), then outside. Just a view…
Prayer: Thank you Lord Jesus. Goodness, I chomp at the bit at times. Open your doors for me at the right time that serves Your purposes. Until then, I try to perfect patience by waiting. Be my master, O Lord. AMEN