A church like John the Baptist
By BRANDON YOUNG
John the Baptist was sent to this earth for only one purpose and that was to direct people to the Lord Jesus Christ. John 1:6-7 states, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.”
John preached that the Messiah was coming, and his only concern was doing the will of the Father. He is a perfect example of what the modern-day church should look like and be doing. Jesus said this in Matthew 11:10-11, “For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” What an endorsement John was given from Jesus! Let’s take a moment and look a John’s life and purpose.
John knew his mission and purpose, and he stayed about His heavenly Father’s business. He knew he had been called to help people come unto Christ (see Luke 1:16). When he saw the Savior, John testified, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Instead of encouraging people to follow himself, John helped them become disciples of Jesus Christ.
Speaking of the Savior, John said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). John was not about himself. If we could see the church shift from self-centeredness to God-centered, we would truly see the power of God move through our communities. John the Baptist was a road sign pointing others to Christ. Pastor Cale Fauver asked this, “What is the function of a signpost? They are designed not to be the point, but to point to the point. They declare to you the purpose, the objective of why they exist; why they are planted on the side of the road is written on them. Now some of us have pictures with signposts, or have even seen some that we smiled at or liked — but we don’t go to the Grand Canyon to merely take a picture with the sign and then turn around.” The church should be a signpost pointing the way to Jesus Christ!
John demonstrated the core principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He taught the people about justice, mercy, honesty, morality, fasting, prayer, repentance and confession of sins, baptism, resurrection, and the Judgment. His teaching could be described as the Savior’s was: “They were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority” (Mark 1:22). He was a great ambassador for Jesus. The church should be an ambassador for Christ. Paul said in 2 Corthinthians 5:17-20, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” An ambassador must be representative of the country they represent and must be in constant communication with the head of the country. We as the church should represent the kingdom of Heaven upon the earth and be in constant communication with God.
The church should be the lens that the world views Jesus. The purpose of eyeglasses is to enable the wearer to see clearly. It is not the purpose of the glasses to be seen, but rather to help one to see everything else clearly. Similarly, the purpose of the church is to be the lens through which the world sees God clearly. The church should not bring attention to itself, instead it should provide a correct picture of God.
Often salvation is viewed as only a vertical relationship — something between God and oneself, but the reality is that a relationship with God cannot be confined to one’s private life. It must permeate our horizontal relationships. We must love others as ourselves and everyone gets accepted and loved with no EXCLUSIONS! John loved others enough to guide them towards Jesus, and he was always making appeals to others to prepare for the coming of the Lord. John lived completely differently than the world so the world could see a difference. The world needs to see a church that is different from themselves. Jesus contrasted John with worldly teachers: John was not “a man clothed in soft raiment … gorgeously appareled … in kings’ courts” (Luke 7:25).
John was “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord” (Mark 1:3). Because he lived differently and taught with the power of God, the people felt the Spirit and were converted. This should be the same with the church. Dr. Michael Williams defines the church in an article in Patheos.com as “imperfect people who know they needed a Savior, working together to build relationships, help those in need, and to glorify God by striving to be like Christ and share His love with others.” This was the mission of John the Baptist, and should be the churches as well!
(The Solution Column is provided by Pastor Brandon Young of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church and his associate, Rev. David Odom.)
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