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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

The Mission of the Baptist in the Advent of the Lord

The mystery of John the Baptist cries out in a world whose love has grown cold. His voice tolls to awaken our dull consciences. He calls out to help us recognize the truth that only love knows. If we do not hear this testimony, it is easy to forget what it means to be, not only a Christian. but simply human. Christ comes for humanity and to prepare for Him, we must return to human tenderness. Such is the mission of the Baptist in the advent of the Lord.

If we would heed his message, God would make our hearts vulnerable to the joy of Christmas. If we set his testimony free in our hearts, the Baptist's cry has the power to limit on what the world can claim from us. If we allow him to admonish us regarding the truth about marriage and family, about faithfulness and sin, about God and our neighbor, we would not be trapped or embarrassed by our own rash judgments. Let us live in denial no longer but obey his call to act justly and to love tenderly. Obedience to the messenger prepares for the coming of Word of the Father. Yes, John still challenges us to step out of the shadows of sin and to wash in the waters of truth. If we are comfortable, the Camel-hair prophet makes us uneasy. If we are arrogant, his message humbles us. If we are confused, he is there to clarify. If we are discouraged, he helps us find the heart we need. Will we recognize the hour of our visitation? In the lifeless desert of secular living, who can help us find Living Water? Indulging heaps of technology, we have become spiritually dull. In our self-conceit and self-interest, we live imprisoned in our egos. Fearing inconvenience, we have robbed ourselves of the greatness of God's love. Condemning our enemies and exacting payment, we owe debts that we cannot repay. Thus, the Forerunner comes to cut through our fear, insobriety, and lust for control - and makes us humble before the truth once again. Where is the wilderness in which he ministers? This testimony echoes in the distressing outburst of an autistic child, and is heard in the quiet sobs of a grieving widow. It resounds among the brokenhearted who have lost it all and even thunders among the cynical who risk being lost forever. This cry is familiar to the powerless and poor. It is repeated by the forlorn and the forsaken. It is the hope of the homeless and the humiliated. The diseased and the dying draw close to it. To hear this spirit of Elijah, withdraw into your heart, be still and attend to your conscience. When you hear his voice, do not delay but act. Obey his instruction to confess your sins and to make reparation for what you have done and not done for others. Let him admonish you to not abandon those that God has entrusted to you. He tells you to reconcile with those in your household and to persevere with one another out of reverence for Christ. Return kindness for injury. He bids you to seek forgiveness from those you have hurt and to forgive those who have wounded you. If someone were to say this is impossible for men, he would be right. Do not be discouraged but listen again to the Baptist: he beseeches you to go to the Bridegroom and ask Him for the grace - for he knows that all things are possible for God, and that the Lord fulfills His promises in unanticipated ways.

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