Sunday, December 13, 2015

Advent Preparation: John the Baptist: Luke 3


And the crowds asked him [John the Baptist], “What then should we do?” He said to them in reply, “Whoever has two tunics should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He answered them, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” Soldiers also asked him, “And what is it that we should do?” He told them, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”
-Luke 3:10-14 (NABRE)

John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus by preaching to crowds who came to him in the wilderness to be baptized. He warned them not to think that just because they were descendants of Abraham and Sarah that they would be part of the Kingdom of God, which was being inaugurated. Instead, they needed to repent. People from all walks of life—even tax collectors and soldiers—responded with an earnest question: What do we need to do for genuine repentance?

As we arrive at the third Sunday in Advent, we continue to prepare our hearts to receive Jesus afresh in our lives this Christmas. John the Baptist’s words hit us hard over two millennia after they were first spoken in the Judean desert. If we want to walk in God’s Kingdom—God’s reign in our lives—we cannot glibly say we are part of God’s family—descendants of Abraham, as the Jews assumed in their day. Rather, we need to repent of any action, attitude, or inaction that fails to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and strength, or fails to love our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27).

“What then should we do?” We likewise need to ask this question afresh for our life situation. Like John’s audience, some of us need to share much more from our abundance with those in need. Some of us need stop bullying others, or taking what is unfair—even if we can get away with it.

As I read the Scriptures this morning, I became convicted when reading Philippians 4:4-5 “Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice. Let your forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand” (ASV). Sometimes I get so tired of being forbearing and patient. Especially the last few weeks, there are a few times when I wasn’t forbearing or gentle or kind. What then should I do to repent? I need to heed Paul’s words to rejoice in the Lord in all circumstances, even when yea one more car pushes me on the highway. I need to cultivate a forbearing, gentle, patient spirit for others to see—and even when no one is looking. I need to cling to hope: the Lord is at hand!

As we prepare this Advent, let us listen to John the Baptist’s call to repentance. Let each of us ask the question: What then should I do right now in my life and in my circumstances?

© 2015 Glenn E. Myers