Luke 3:3 John went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
I sometimes worry about the future of our faith. Words like baptism, repentance, confession, and salvation are becoming so outdated that people don’t know what God expects of them. Contrition and humility are so alien to our society that the next generation of pastors is going to find it difficult to preach the Gospel and expect people to turn their lives around.
I’ve watched it among my own family. I’ve seen it in my friends. There is no urgency to get saved anymore. There is no need to admit sinful behavior. There is no necessity to get right with God.
It’s hard to see this happening across society and not feel responsible. Did I make faith too cheap for my children to accept? Did I preach grace too glibly? Did I avoid challenging others because it would bring confrontation into my life? Did I disappoint God because it was easier to appease other people’s discontent with me rather than do what God wants?
Those are hard questions to ask, but they are not just for preachers like me; they’re for everyone who claims to have faith in Christ.
When John the Baptist valiantly preached repentance as the starting point for the forgiveness of sins, he knew it would cost him dearly. You can’t preach the gospel like that without incurring someone’s wrath or getting into trouble. Eventually, it would cause John to be imprisoned and beheaded, but it didn’t stop him from preaching God’s message in order to help his people prepare their hearts, minds, and souls for the coming of the Messiah.
I dearly hope and fervently pray that God raises up faithful followers of Christ and true preachers of the Gospel for the next generation of Christians because, as each generation comes and goes, we are all one step, one moment, one event closer to the sacred time when Christ returns and all of humanity will see the salvation of God through Him, but not all will be ready to receive it.
Question for personal reflection
If Jesus returned today, would I be ready to receive Him?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we do not know when You will return to Earth, but we hope and pray that we will be prepared. Open our hearts and minds to Your words and ways. Settle our fears and calm our anxieties. In Your Holy Name, we wait and pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today’s image is one of John’s latest chess drawings. It’s from his “One of These Knights” art series which he hopes to exhibit in the Fall. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8008/7486709566_3887ab24ee_b.jpg