John the Baptist was certainly not a wishy-washy preacher. In fact, he went straight for the jugular as he preached a baptism of repentance, helping to prepare people for the coming of Jesus. It wasn’t enough for them to just say they were sorry for their sins. He also expected them to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Luke 3: 8).
Solemnly he warned that every tree that does not produce good fruit would be cut down and thrown into the fire (Luke 3:9). How wide-eyed the crowds that heard him must have been ‘What must we do then,’ they asked and he was quick to tell them’ (Luke 3:10).
If John lived today he may be considered one of those ‘fire and brimstone’ preachers and perhaps many would reject his message. That probably wouldn’t have perturbed John too much though. He knew what his purpose in God was, and he preached the message he was given with all the conviction and enthusiasm he could muster. He wouldn’t have watered down his message to make it more palatable to his listeners.
I wonder sometimes what sort of message we preach to a dying world. Now don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that we all need to go around in camel-haired coats, munching on locusts, and preaching to the crowds like John did. What I am saying, though, is that if people are truly to experience the abundant life that Jesus came to give them, then they need to repent of their sins and choose to walk in God’s ways from then on.
Of course people will need help to do this, and that’s where discipleship comes in. That’s where you and I come in. My experience of God is that, when my heart’s desire is to truly follow him, then all the resources needed for me to do so are released from heaven.
God actually wants us to be successful and live in the reality of the abundant life Jesus came to give us. I don’t believe that meant a life void of struggle or pain, but it certainly did mean a life worth living!! I want that for myself and those I come in contact with.
Prayer: Father God, a wishy-washy message can only bring about wishy-washy results. Help us to present the Gospel with the conviction that John the Baptist did. Amen.