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Video Version Below
What is the ministry God has given you? What is it He expects from your life? Sometimes we get stressed out because we think we have the Jesus ministry. We feel like everything depends on us. If we fail, someone we care about may end up in Hell. The pressure can be incredible. The guilt when we fail can be overwhelming. The good news is that only Jesus has the Jesus ministry. Yes, it all depended on Him. One failure and we would all be forever separated from God and enduring His justice forever in Hell. But we are not the Saviour. The life and death responsibility of eternal issues is not on our shoulders.
Our ministry role is more like that of John the Baptist.
For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” Matt. 3:3, ESV
What was John the Baptist’s ministry? It was not to be the Saviour but to prepare the way for the Saviour and point people to Jesus Christ. John was very clear on his role.
You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore, this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:28-30, ESV
What can we learn from the ministry of John the Baptist that will help in our Christian life?
Before he was even born, John the Baptist was chosen by God to be the forerunner of the Messiah. Can you identify with that? Probably not. We tend to be influenced by the heathen ideas of randomness and chance. True, your calling may not have been as dramatic as John’s was, but Scripture teaches that you were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world [Eph. 1:4]. You were specifically and specially designed and placed by God at this moment in history. There are things you can do and people you can touch that no one else can [Eph. 2:10]. You were chosen for such a time as this.
John followed God’s direction for his life. In his case, it was a rough existence of asceticism that cut him off from much of normal Jewish life. That’s not God’s way for everyone. Jesus was the opposite, for example. To illustrate, most Christians will marry and raise a family, but there are people God has called to a single lifestyle. The question is, what has God asked you to do? Are you obediently and contentedly following the path Jesus laid for you, or are you resisting or being disobedient? If you would walk in your ministry, obedience is not an option.
John was a humble man. He did not operate in pride. He knew his place below Jesus, and he was faithful to it. Pride is the silent killer, like a predator shark. It is what brought down one of the greatest created beings of all time: Lucifer. Pride is the root of every sin. We constantly have to be on the watch out for pride in our lives. It had destroyed many ministries. Pride will not be an issue if we keep our eyes centred on Jesus and submit our will to His will. After all, when we consider the Creator of the universe, the Redeemer of mankind, Who has given us everything, what do we have to be proud of? Rebellious man is proud of their sin, Christians are humbled by it.
John took a stand for the Truth. He did not compromise. Some Christians today compromise the Word of God to make it more acceptable. They think they are reaching people by taking the ‘offence’ out of the Bible, whether it be by compromising with evolution, reducing moral standards, ignoring doctrines like sin and hell, etc. Christianity does not win the world by becoming the world. Christianity wins by declaring God’s holiness, man’s sinfulness, and the only way of salvation: Jesus Christ. True, John the Baptist was confrontational, and not all of us are confrontational. That’s ok. But none of us have been given the ministry of compromise!
John wasn’t interested in building his own ministry or his own kingdom. He wasn’t interested in his success except in how it impacted the Kingdom of God. Our ministry - whether it is living our lives pleasing to God or something more formal - should never be primarily about us. The object is to lead people to Jesus. Our own success or failure from a human perspective is immaterial. Our concern is that people see Jesus through us.
John the Baptist was called that because he baptized people. He prepared hearts for Jesus by giving them the opportunity to acknowledge and repent of their sins. Since Jesus has already died and risen, Christian baptism has a different emphasis, but that is another topic. We are still to prepare the hearts of people to receive Jesus by way of the Holy Spirit. We are not to usurp the Holy Spirit’s job by trying to convict people of their sins. This makes us harsh and judgmental and puts us under a lot of pressure to manipulate people to make the ‘right’ decision. No, our ministry is to prepare the way so people are receptive to the moving of the Holy Spirit. He may convict them through us, but it is not our work. We do this by living lives dedicated to Jesus Christ and His Word, speaking a word in season and showing Christ’s love and concern. This is not a high-pressure thing because the results are not our responsibility. We speak the Truth, obey God, love people and leave the results in the Holy Spirit’s hands.
John had no time or patience for religious practices or emotions if they did not reveal themselves in practical applications. Paul began his letters with doctrinal teachings and then moved to practical applications. We must study to know the Truth of God’s Word, but if we really believe it, it will lead to changed lives. If we are concerned with knowledge and/or emotions and are not interested in reaching the needs of people around us, then we have no ministry at all. By the way, the opposite is also true. If we are only interested in helping people but have no interest in studying the Word of God, then we may be in pride and self-fulfilment.
John knew challenging Herod, a powerful political leader, was risky. Yet, he was faithful to what he was called to do. Christians have always been an irritation to evil men and women, whether they be in civil governments, businesses, unions, schools or even in the institutional Church itself. Evil people who refuse to change their ways will do everything they can to silence the Word of God and those who represent it. Governments recognize, what may Christians seem ignorant of, that the Truth of Jesus Christ will change every aspect of society and culture. It is a war to the death, but we have inside information on Who the Winner is. Not everyone is called into direct confrontation with evil people, but we are all to be faithful unto death.
John knew that not everyone would accept his message. He knew there would be criticism and opposition. When Christians seek peace or conversions at any price, the cost is always the integrity of the Gospel. Again, the pressure is not on our shoulders. We are ambassadors. It is King Jesus who will bring salvation or judgment. Those are the only two choices people have.
Don’t carry the world’s weight on your shoulders; you were not designed to handle it. Your ministry is to live the life God has given you in love and obedience. You will be amazed at what God will do in and through you!
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