Monday, February 20, 2012

On Being John the Baptist

I did it yesterday. I was the one in the room with the words that made everyone uncomfortable and brought on that awkward silence. It was technically one word, but it was John the Baptist's word, "Repent."

I didn't mean to be a party-killer. It's just that I saw this amazing sunset in my side-view mirror last week and tried to take a picture while I was at a stoplight. My fingers were all a-fumble because I'm no photographer, but Adrian, sitting shotgun, instantly saw what I saw. Now, he's a photographer, so a race ensued to see who would get the shot. Adrian with his youth and his artistry against me with my steering wheel and thumbs -- it was no contest. The image is his; I cannot lie.


When he emailed me the picture, that word of John's echoed in my mind. That mirror held an invitation to turn around and see the majesty just behind me. Before me, the sky held dusk, but behind me it was aflame with glory. Without that mirror, I would have remained completely ignorant of the beauty that was right there for the beholding. To see it, all I had to do was repent, turn around.   

The circumstance was so inviting, but the word, still, is not. I pasted the party-pooper word in big bold letters right in the middle of the picture while my gut was saying, "Don't do it." I posted it anyway hoping others might see what I saw: the beauty and not the repugnance in reprentance. My gut was still telling me it was a long shot. I understand. It's hard to see past that hard word. Even if all it is is a mirror held before us so we can see the blessing we would otherwise have missed.

: :

Mike began a sermon series on Revelation yesterday. It will be a long one. The introduction wasn't even from Revelation, but from 2 Peter.  Revelation is a whole book of party-killing words we like to avoid. It's a little uncomfortable to see the sheer force of God's power partnered with his wrath against sin on display together against unrighteousness, even if it is still to come. But Mike said this about that book,
It is the most encouraging and the most terrifying of all scripture. We must learn to live in the balance between encouraged and terrified (the fear of the Lord) to live victorious Christian lives.

Like John the Baptist's repentance, John the Apostle's revelation was meant to be a blessing to us. Instead, we learn quickly about the party-killing nature of these words and keep a respectful distance.

Yesterday, when my scripture was the faux pas at the party, I got a taste of how hard it must have been to be John. How lonely it must have been to retreat from society to the wilderness and eat locusts, alone. Maybe it was just easier that way. I don't know.

What I do know is that he said it anyway, and yesterday, I gained a new appreciation for John. I appreciate Mike too, because he's another brave heart who's willing to say the hard stuff and teach the book of Revelation for the terrifying and encouraging blessing it is. Like John and John, Mike sees his sacred duty to God's word, all of it, and is willing to say the hard stuff.  Even the party-killing words. The sin-stopping, you're-going-the-wrong-way, turn-around-to-see-God's-glory words, no matter how hard they are to hear. I admire men like these, because I guess it's never been in vogue to bear hard news, and sometimes the messenger gets shot.

I realize I've probably created another awkward silence. I just had to get all that off my chest and out of my rear-view mirror. But do come back. In all likelihood my next post will be much more socially acceptable because it's not so fun being John the Baptist.

Linking with Michelle, hoping not to ruin another party.


6 comments:

  1. We all need John's reminders... and yours! I feel as if my Christian journey is like peeling back the layers of an onion... I can repent and find victory in one area only to peel back the skin to see more that needs to be repented. I think American Christianity is often one of comfort rather than the fear of the Lord. Thanks for the reminder of balance... and for the call to repentance!

    ~H

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  2. Heidi, I think you are right about the American church. We have a very hard time allowing our commitment to Christ to override our expection of creature compforts and our consumer mentality. One can hope that should all that be stripped from our lives in the West, we would rise to the task and be found faithful.

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  3. Wow. I loved the photo, and thought its accompanying scripture right clever and appropriate! (Comment there.)

    Funny how we American "Christians" (some of us, anyhow) can be in a roomful of people where we hear the Lord's name used in vain and don't bat an eyelash, but go stony-cold silent at a "dirty" word like "repent" (which Jesus also went around saying, BTW). You shouldn't have to feel uncomfortable. Who knows, maybe one of those frozen people went home and looked up the word and did some hard and much needed thinking.

    God bless! (That's not a faux pas, is it??)

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  4. You never ruin my party, Dawn! Seriously, though, living (and speaking) the Gospels is hard, isn't it? I admit, I don't often do a good job of it - I take the easy road.

    This story reminded me of something that happened at my office today. A young woman I don't know, a co-worker who works in another department, popped into my office and asked me a question out of the blue. "Do you love Jesus?" she asked. And I wanted to blurt: that's an inappropriate question for the workplace!! But I don't know...is it in appropriate? Maybe she is simply much braver than I.

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  5. I like this writing, it is unique and wonderful.

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  6. Great photo and writing, Dawn. That's not a party I'd like to be at anyway...smile...so go ahead and preach it, Sistah.
    "If you're ashamed of me before man, I'll be ashamed of you before the Father" or words to that effect.
    I'm having a good day, bless His name forever!

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