While driving to Central Kentucky and back over the weekend, I listened to several sermons through podcasts. Andy Stanley, Pete Wilson, & TD Jakes took turns challenging me and offering new insights. Yesterday, Andy Stanley’s message came from Luke 3 near where I’ve been reading. Just Friday I wrote of the example Jesus set in Luke 4 that involved knowing the Word, going to church, and having quiet time with God. Jesus showed us how to grow closer to the Father. However, after listening to Andy, I realized I was remiss in skipping over John’s message in Luke 3 too quickly. Following Jesus’ example will improve my relationship with the Father but there is more. As I seek the Father, how is this growth evidenced? What proof do others see I walk with the Father? The world certainly does NOT need more Christians who say one thing and do another. So what kind of actions should they see? Let’s check out John’s words…
“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance… ‘What should we do then?’ the crowd asked. John answered, ‘The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.’” Luke 3: 8, 10-11
Share extra clothes… no problem for my closets are stuffed! Share food? Again, no problem for I’ve been blessed abundantly. If I take his words at face value from this time… no problem! However, if we look back into the 1st Century we see these words in a new way. People back then didn’t have such full closets so this action required sacrifice. But even greater a sacrifice would have been sharing food. Keeping enough nourishment on the table for your family to survive was a cause of constant work and worry. The region was arid so conditions didn’t allow for much in the way of gardening. The only real staple was grain so in the ‘Lord’s Prayer’, the line about receiving their daily bread was a need to pray for. When John told them to share their extra food, the people may have paused to think… did he just say that? Share the food my family needs for survival?
In our time, we are surrounded by food options. We have restaurants galore and aisles of items in the groceries. So what would John say to us today? How would he tell us to ‘produce fruit in keeping with repentance’? Food was in scarce supply in the 1st Century… today the commodity in greatest scarcity is time. We run here and there… practice… work… run… We run to take care of our needs and our family and our wants… when do we take time to reach out to others? If John stood in the 21st century, he would challenge us to take time to be God’s hands and feet to others. Share a cup of coffee with a neighbor needing a listening ear. Visit the rest homes to talk to the lonely. Take time to help with outreach programs for children and youth so they can get a hug from Jesus through our arms. I think he would also challenge us to share our money. Did you know stats show the more money American’s make the less they give away? (Stanley’s sermon, 11/2/14) While I enjoy my blessings, others around this world sit in great need. What am I doing about it?
As I wrote on Friday, Jesus showed us by example how to grow closer to the Father. This we should take hand in hand with the words of John. As we go into this day, may we reflect on our actions and how we ‘produce the fruit in keeping with repentance.’ Guide me and open my eyes, Lord. Amen!