John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’
“I was doing some Spring cleaning,” my college professor said to our Religion & Consumerism class, “and as I looked at my garage, I thought about our Christian call to serve the homeless. What was really stopping me from clearing out my garage and making it a home for some homeless person?”
The simplicity of that suggestion made me pause. The rakes and shovels and lawnmower? Maybe he could just borrow the neighbors’, or hire a landscaper. The memorabilia from childhood – did he ever really look at those high school yearbooks anyway? He had never thought about his garage’s role in his Christian walk because, well he needed a place to keep all of that stuff. But when he looked at that stuff in more detail, the opportunity – and the spiritual challenge – became much clearer.
Like my theology professor, John The Baptist clearly wrestled with the details of how he was called to “prepare the way” in his own life in order to effectively prepare The Way. By wearing a robe of coarse camel hair, John ensured he wasn’t caught up in looking (or feeling) good. By eating the commoners’ food of locusts, he eschewed gluttony. And unlike the high priest, a leather (not golden) girdle would work fine. John was not going to partake of things that distracted or disconnected him from the people and purpose he was serving. He was perhaps odd looking, but not distracted.
Many of us have a sense of God’s purpose for our lives and/or what we should be compelled to do as Christians, too – but by confusing some of our “needs” with “nice-to-haves,” we limit our spiritual growth and impact on our neighbors. So, what are the specific details – the “logs in your eyes” … or hands or feet or brain or wallet or anywhere else – that hold you back from actively, emphatically, and comprehensively making that happen? How do you need to prepare the way to prepare The Way in your own life this Advent season?
- Has a TV show habit which started as just “a harmless escape” now consumed too much of your focus?
- Yes, that luxury car is safer and more reliable. But what would you do, or who could you help, with the $5K you could save by buying a cheaper model – is the tradeoff worth it? Or more simply: when the sales agent offers you to add seat warmers for just $325, what will you decide?
- What about your food?
- Your clothes?
How will others see you? Will you seem odd? How will you see yourself?