The Cloud of Witnesses
Former title Lessons From the People of the Bible
John the Baptist
Lesson 5: John the Baptist – Confronted The Ways Of The World
Confronted The Ways Of The World
John confronted the world by his dress, by his lifestyle and by his words.
John did not set out to conform or to follow the temporary fads of the world. He came to show that the things of this world are not necessarily good, helpful or vital to life. This world that elevates popularity, pleasure, power, position, prestige and possessions, yet misses that whole point of life. His dress was a declaration that he had a higher goal than the acceptance of the masses.
John saw no need to conform to a world, which had ignored God by allowing its religion to embrace a secular society in order to survive. The religious leaders of the day were little more than puppets in the hands of Rome. On top of which they were exclusively focused on self-preservation and self-aggrandisement. Religion had become an industry, not a pathway to a relationship with God.
He challenged the people to stop and consider their ways. He challenged them to think beyond the temporary and consider the eternal. He challenged them to justify their actions in contrast to God’s ways and expectations. He challenged them to re-evaluate their life in light of eternity. He exposed their self-satisfaction and emptiness.
He confronted the people’s lack of righteous values. He confronted their hedonistic lifestyle and materialistic focus. He exposed their independence and loose relationships.
He confronted the shallowness of the people’s commitment to change. He demanded that the people get baptised in water by immersion as a sign of repentance and a change of lifestyle.
He confronted the religious leaders by challenging their sincerity in turning to God rather than just following the crowd. Why were the religious leaders suddenly interested in getting right with God? Did they acknowledge their separation from God and His ways or were they just trying to appease the people so that the people would return to their synagogues and continue to pay into them their tithes and offerings?
John preached a better way. He was not going to get his values system from the world. He went back to the ancient Scriptures and found in them the wisdom of an unchanging God of love and faithfulness. He went back to the basics of life – the foundations of family and society.
He pointed the way to return to discover how God intended us to live. He, the Creator of the world – the Creator of humanity – had set down principles, which if followed would bring peace, security, prosperity and fruitfulness, but if ignored would bring barrenness, hopelessness and defeat.
He knew that the answers to life come from our Creator, not from the self-centred plans, wants and desires of mankind. Instant gratification never pays.
John the Baptist would say to us today...
It is no use expecting politicians or this world’s leaders to show the way. Christians are the ones with the light – they are the ones God expects to give leadership, wisdom and guidance to the unchanging truth of life.
Father, please help me remember that I am not supposed to get sucked into the ways of the world but rather to stand up for those things that You honour and have put in place for the eternal benefit of humanity. Amen.
Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 1:1-7; Matthew 5:17-20; Matthew 24:1-14 & 26-35.
From where or from whom do you get your values?
Which values would you hold on to against all opposition and why?
What values are you passing on to others?