We live in age where just about everyone has a soap box with the ability to speak and to be heard. Anyone with a phone in their pocket and a thought burning on the tips of their thumbs has the ability to say something. And those who speak the loudest and most divisively tend to be the most heard, and to get the largest platform and audience.
And of those from the Christian tradition, there are also people in the Pentecostal and Charismatic circles that I’ve run in over the years who have become known as prophets. They say some very spiritual sounding things that are passed off as prophecy, and end statements with “thus saith the Lord.” They also sell books, have conferences, and even give instruction to others on how they too can be prophets. In many ways, they resemble their secular counterparts in our culture.
No matter what circles you are running in, everyone’s busy trying to be a voice and to have something to say, and to build a brand around their message. They want to be known for their many words, to be the first to break the story, to fill the silence, and to engage in chatter.
But then history tells us about a man named John the Baptist. He came to immerse others and to ultimately reveal. To immerse others in the waters of the Jordan, baptizing them, so they could have a change of heart, to ultimately repent, and to be prepared for He that was to come. He was a voice crying in the wilderness, and spoke where nobody else was willing to speak.
According to Jesus, John the Baptist, more than a prophet, more than just a guy with a message consisting of 3 bullet points or some hot takes on Twitter. He wasn’t a professional orator, with a really slick Ted Talk.
He was the embodiment of something more. And that embodiment took him out into the wilderness. It caused him to live somewhere different, to dress different, to eat different, to speak different, to behave different.
John was different because of who God called him and made him to be. He was more than a prophet according to Jesus. How can one be that? What greater thing can there be there than a prophet? Yet according to Jesus John was that very thing!
John IS the voice crying in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord, to lift up every valley and to drag down every mountain. John IS the wilderness, John IS the mountain torn down, John IS the valley filled up, John IS that voice, and the very thing in his personhood that God has called him to proclaim. John is more than a guy with a message, he IS the message, and the very embodiment of what God wanted said.
Of course, that was John the Baptist. You and I aren’t John. But Jesus said “the least in the kingdom of heaven is even greater than John.” And while there is a lot of mystery of what exactly Jesus meant when He said that (and certainly room for much debate), I believe in saying that Jesus could mean that whatever you and I are, being a John the Baptist type figure is a great starting point for us all.
And that doesn’t mean Jesus would have us be some punk that’s out there running our mouths and telling it like it is, as some wrongly interpret John the Baptist to have been. But rather, you and I have the opportunity to be the embodiment of something more. John is our baseline. He’s our starting point.
So when you and I speak, and have something to say, let us be the embodiment of what we have to say. Let us not be actors who can turn a switch on and off, or hypocrites for whom there is a difference between the man and the message. Nor let us merely be just be a person with an endless list of talking points, or a carefully crafted homiletical messages that would get us a good grade in seminary.
Let us be a voice.
Let us have something to truly say, and something that issues out of who we are as a person, so that what we say is indistinguishable from what we are and who God has made us to be, so that our life and message might be one and the same. And as such, what we have to say won’t be cheap, nor will it be common. And instead of just being a chatterbox, we’ll be a voice, and instead of being just another talking head, we’ll say something worth giving our heads up for.
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