Woodland Church’s mission statement was prayerfully and thoughtfully written fifteen years ago. “Celebrating God’s Love by Persuading People to become Passionate Followers of Christ!” John the Baptist would have been a model of our mission statement. He was a passionate believer that fearlessly shared God’s love and his message. John said, it’s not enough to be racially and culturally Jewish, your life must change. “It’s your life that must change, not your skin.” (Luke 3:8, Message)
Where did he get his passion? The angel of the Lord had told his father, Zechariah, that John, “will be a great man in the Lord’s sight. … From his very birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and he will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. … He will bring fathers and children together again; … he will get the Lord’s people ready for him.” (Luke 1:15–17, GN)
Was it the disciplined life of prayer, solitude, simplicity and study that this young Jewish priest lived that gave him the courage and boldness he needed? “John dressed in a camel-hair habit tied at the waist by a leather strap. He lived on a diet of locusts and wild field honey.” (Matthew 3:4, Message) That was part of it.
Had his mother, Elizabeth, told him about what happened when Mary, the mother of Jesus visited? “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly, You’re so blessed among women, and the babe in your womb, also blessed! And why am I so blessed that the mother of my Lord visits me? The moment the sound of your greeting entered my ears, The babe in my womb skipped like a lamb for sheer joy. Blessed woman, who believed what God said, believed every word would come true!” (Luke 1:41–45, Message) You don’t think she would have skipped that do you?
It was the blessings of being raised by godly parents to love and serve the Lord coupled with a personal decision to passionately live for God that brought such an anointing of God’s Spirit upon Him. That anointing, passion, and his example made John an effective witness. Zig Ziglar once said, “we reproduce what we are.”
It doesn’t mean that you will not have doubts or struggles with your faith to become a passionate follower of Christ. John certainly did. “John the Baptist was in prison when he heard what Christ was doing, and he sent a message through his own disciples asking the question, “Are you the one who is to come or are we to look for somebody else?”” (Matthew 11:3, Phillips)
Jesus reminds his disciples of John’s greatness by comparing a bending blade of grass to John’s strength, integrity and his calling to persuade God’s people to get ready for the coming of the Messiah. John, died in faith having fulfilled God’s plan for his life. He got his generation ready for the appearing of Christ.
Today, we stand in the same calling to be passionate followers persuading others of God’s love for them. Enjoy your family, the lights, the meals and giving gifts, this is good. Let God use you to share the Good News of Christmas. Share a meal, a coffee, your home but above all share Christ! This Christmas who will you celebrate the Resurrected and Returning Lord Jesus Christ with?