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Help Wanted

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Help Wanted
An entry level position is available in the public relations department. We are seeking a highly motivated self starter who is willing to spread our message throughout extreme rural areas.
You will be given real world experience in effective communication while spreading our message to a wide variety of people including various age groups, income levels and degrees of social status.
After persuading your audience to accept our message you will be at the forefront of recruiting and training new members into our organization and performing the induction ceremonies designed to publicly demonstrate the commitment of these individuals to the organization.
There will be extensive long term travel involved. Although you will not be required to travel far you will spend all of your time in the field. While you are working we will care for all of your needs. A uniform will be provided which will allow you to communicate with even the poorest and most marginalized of society without intimidating them. Your meals will be provided from local fare which consists primarily of winged insects with at least one condiment provided.
You should be aware that the local government and religious authorities will be upset by your work and will oppose every gain that you make. Past representatives have been arrested, beaten, sometimes even until death, and beheaded in order to discourage the very activities which you will be required to perform. Part of your duties will be to confront representatives of these groups if they appear at an organized event during the course of your regular duties. If arrested you may face dire consequences.
You have a limited time to accomplish your objectives before the son of the head of the organization arrives. Once he is on the scene you will immediately turn over to him all responsibilities and authority as well as any new inductees into the organization at which time it will be your primary task to do everything humanly possible to ensure that all of the benefits of your efforts up to this point and from this point forward are credited to the son and not to yourself. It is vital that your reputation and life’s work begin to fall away to nothing and that everything be given to the son and the building up of his reputation and his life’s work.
No need to apply for this position you have already been assigned to this work. May your efforts be fruitful.
How many of you would love to receive such a notice of your future employment? In a way every Christian has been given a job much like this one. This is the job description of John the Baptist.
Matthew 3:1–12 NASB95
Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!’ ” Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
As Christians we are part of God’s public relations department. It is our job to spread the message of God to the world at large. At times that message is greeted with hostility or at least rejection but that does not relieve us of the responsibility to spread the message.
God does talk about meeting our needs but he doesn’t always do that in the way we would expect or even in a way that we would agree with. I have never eaten locust and wild honey but I think I would prefer a good juicy steak with a baked potato and some cream peas.
Nevertheless John the Baptist is a fascinating character to me. He got his name from baptising people in the wilderness and we modern day baptists got our name from baptizing people by immersion.
His primary job was to prepare the way for the ministry of Jesus Christ. Our primary job is to spread the gospel and introduce people to Jesus Christ.
John went as a front runner or a forward operator whose job was to remind people of the truth of God and encourage them to change, to repent, to put their faith and trust in God and to be obedient to what God has said.
What is our task as Christians today? Do we not go out ahead of Jesus and strike up conversations and build relationships with other people? Aren’t we sent into the remotest parts of the earth to encourage others to turn to Christ? This is not a new idea, people have apparently been doing this since shortly after there were people on the earth.
God has chosen that his primary method of bringing people to him is through the ministry of people who have already come to him. He uses us to reach them. I don’t think he does that because we are so wonderful but perhaps because we are so broken.
Can you imagine standing before God, standing before perfection, comparing your life and your work and your appearance to his. How intimidating that would be, how scary it would be, how terrible you would feel by comparison. That is what the prophet experienced when he said have mercy on me, I am a man of unclean lips and come from a people of unclean lips.
Now that comes from a man who loves God and knows God loves him. When we stand before God we stand before a loving father and saviour. What about someone who is not saved and is not sure that God loves them, how intimidating would it be for them to stand in the presence of God, how awful?
So God uses us, because we are broken, because we are fallen. We are not so intimidating and we do not seem so distant because we are more like the lost than we are like God. We don’t mean to be. We are working to get better but we are still a lot more like our old selves than we are like the creator God of heaven and earth.
God and his son Jesus are clothed in majesty and power, they are pure and white and dazzling in appearance. They are intimidating without meaning to be, they are worthy of awe and worship and the slightest glimpse of God in his majesty would make every flaw and every failure of ours magnified larger than the grand canyon by comparison, and there would be a lot of flaws. How could anyone stand it.
But here I stand before you in my garment of camels hair. When you compare my dress clothes to God’s appearance I might as well be wearing an uncured camel hide. I am not nearly as intimidating. Last Wednesday during bible study I talked about Cain’s wife said he lived so long he could have married his great, great, great granddaughter and I meant to say he could have married Adam’s great, great, great, granddaughter. Everyone laughed and it was good.
During my bible study you can talk, ask questions, disagree and it is OK. If God were to speak to us we could do nothing but listen if our fear and awe would even let us do that. In many ways I have the same job as John the Baptist, and so do you.
It is our job to introduce people to the idea of Jesus and then introduce them to the person of Jesus. We can introduce them because they instinctively know that we are not perfect, that we are more approachable, easier to know than Jesus is. We are more like them, they feel more comfortable with us and it makes it easier for them to take the risk. If someone like you or me can approach God then maybe, just maybe they can too.
We talk about ourselves, about our triumphs and our failures because they are relatable, they sound a lot like the triumphs and failures of the people around us. We are real. One of our strongest avenues for reaching out to other human beings is the fact that we fail. If we can fail, and have failed and yet we are loved by God and have been loved by God then maybe, just maybe someone else who has failed can be loved by God too. We are in a perfect place to introduce a person who has failed, a person like us, to a God who never fails.
Like John the Baptist we have another duty. Once we have introduced someone to Jesus and they have begun a relationship with him, once they are saved our task is not done. It is not our job to make them better Christians or fix all of their issues. That way of thinking is dangerous, after all they trust us now, we just introduced them to the most life changing event of their lives, why wouldn’t they trust us.
Do you know what your next job is, that he might increase and you might decrease. Our next job is a continuation of the first job. We first work to introduce someone to Jesus and then we work so that they become less and less dependent on us to get to Jesus and more and more dependent on Jesus himself.
Sometimes it is hard to do, in a way it is like watching your children grow up. When the kids are little they depend on you for everything. You care for their every need and answer their every question. For a while you are the fountain of all knowledge and the provider of every good thing, but that is not really your job. That is God’s job, every good thing comes from God and all wisdom comes from God. It can be hard sometimes to step out from between God and your children and let them struggle withe relying on him and not relying on you. You see what is coming and you want to stop it, or direct it or guide your children, but a time comes when you have to let them make some of their own mistakes and struggle with their own identity and their own problems, its how they grow.
With a new christian it is the same. When they are first saved they want to know everything and they often rely on the one who led them to Christ or the pastor of someone else to guide them. If they have good guides they will be directed to rely more and more on Jesus and less and less on themselves or other humans. It is part of growing up as a christian.
We are like John the Baptist. It is our job to make the path of the lord straight, or to make the path to the lord straight. We are to bring people to him and make the introduction the best way we can, making it as easy and as fruitful as possible. Once someone has Jesus in their own heart it is our job to get out of the way and let them grow with him. Not by abandoning them or forgetting about them but by encouraging them to turn more and more toward Jesus and less and less toward us or toward themselves. Its really a great job.
One of the greatest things about raising kids is seeing them grown and learn. The miracle of birth, first words, first steps, school, driving tests, first job, first date, their own family and their own kids and then we get to do it all over again with grand kids and it is even more fun. Its the same with babes in Christ. We get to see the miracle of salvation, their first prayer, their first bible, to watch them struggling to leave their old life and start a brand new life, to watch them grow and maybe to watch them bring someone to Jesus themselves and we become spiritual grand parents and we get to do it all over again. What a blessing God has given us to include us in his plan of salvation, to use us, to let us be there during all the great moment, to watch our children grow up.
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