Sunday, November 20, 2011

More of Him - Less of Me

Since the gospels are familiar stories to me, I usually find myself picturing a scene from Jesus of Nazareth as I read. Growing up, we had Jesus of Nazareth recorded onto VHS from TV. Almost every year around Easter, dad would pull out the videos and we would watch it as a family. Even though this 1977 movie it is an earthly account of Jesus time here on earth, it has helped form my view of Jesus. It's still my favorite depiction of the life of Christ.

As I read Matthew 3-4 Saturday evening, I tried to get past my preconceived ideas about John the Baptist. I pushed aside videos I had watched. I got beyond Passion Play renditions that my church preformed (if I remember correctly, I think my dad even played John the Baptist one year.) I also tried hard not to think of John the Baptist yelling like the preacher on Pollyanna.

This time, I tried to really listen to what he was saying.

Usually while thinking of his strange dress and meal plan, my mind skips right on over to the baptism of Jesus. This time, I paid special attention to his words to the Pharisees and Sadducee.

“Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? 
Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. 
Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’
That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones.
Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised,
ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit
will be chopped down and thrown into the fire."  (Matthew 3:7-10, NLT)

It's extremely easy for me to judge the Pharisees. Yes, they had their fare share of faults and a tremendous amount of pride. But I must admit, that at times, I'm not much different than they are.

The words of John the Baptist convicted me. Often, I am guilty of not distinguishing myself as a follower of Christ. He's forgiven me of so much, yet I still find myself caught up in gossip, selfishness, jealousy, and pride. I fail on a daily basis.  I justify my sins and make excuses. I can easily convince myself that I'm ok. "My parents are in the ministry." "I work at a Christian university." "I have a seminary degree." etc. Yet none of the statements justify my not living a completely separate life. Jesus has called me to be different. He wants me to stand out. And this time, I needed to pay attention to John the Baptist's words to the Pharisees.

The Pharisees had great educations. They held influential positions. Yet they let their pride and religious rules get between them and Christ. Imagine the impact these religious men could have had if they had been willing to deny themselves and follow Jesus,

I challenge you to push aside your Sunday school pictures of certain passages the next time you read your Bible. I was amazed at what the Lord had to show me when I opened my heart to His prompting.

I want to get "me" out of the way. More of Him. Less of me

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