Be a Voice Calling

B.J.Funk copy

B.J. Funk

By B.J. Funk-

John the Baptist is one of my heroes. Purpose driven. Not out to impress. The kind of man you can’t help but respect. He chose obedience over popularity, welcoming the back seat God had assigned him in order to give the front seat to Jesus.

John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Christ. He fulfilled prophecy. Seven centuries before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah spoke of “the voice of one that crieth.” The prophet Malachi declared on God’s behalf, “Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me.”

“Are you Elijah? Are you the Prophet?” they asked him. He was not, nor was he the Christ. He said instead, “I am the Voice of One Calling in the desert.” Others shouted. “What do you say about yourself?” Again John stated, “I am the Voice of One Calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”

He spared no words, calling them a brood of vipers! Probably not the best way to start a sermon. But, it worked. The Holy Spirit came on the scene, and conviction settled in their hearts. He went from place to place, baptizing, calling for repentance of sins and telling of the Light that was coming. Not one to mince words, he had a quick answer when they asked, “What then should we do if this Light is coming?” John answered that if they had two coats, they should give one to somebody else. If they had food, give part of it to somebody who doesn’t.

Unbelievably, even the tax collectors came under conviction. “What should we do?” John told them not to collect more than they should. Be fair. The soldiers came under conviction. “What should we do?” John answered, “Don’t take money. Don’t accuse falsely. Be content with your salary.”

“Listen, I baptize you with water, and that’s second best. The one coming is more powerful than I am. He’s first best because He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He’s the Real Deal!”

John spoke with such authority that he gained the attention of his listeners. It would have been easy to become self-righteous over this divine appointment. However, even as the crowds gathered around him, he kept his eye on the reason he was born. He was a Voice. He was content with this assignment.

The world in which John the Baptist’s ministry was launched was firmly in the grip of a pagan force, the Roman Empire. There is a stunning parallel with our present times.

“It has been rightly said, that the idea of conscience as we understand it was unknown to heathenism. Absolute right did not exist. Might was right,” writes Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), a noted European biblical scholar. “The sanctity of marriage had ceased. Female dissipation and the general dissoluteness led at last to an almost entire cessation of marriage. Abortion, and the exposure and murder of newly born children, were common and tolerated; unnatural vices, which even the greatest philosophers practiced, if not advocated, attained proportions which defy description.”

Into this environment came this fiercely fearless man and his prophecy of the One to come. Neither John the Baptist or Jesus would tiptoe into corruption. They both faced it boldly and honestly, and it cost them their lives. John spoke against Herod for taking his brother’s wife. He was beheaded. Jesus spoke the truth and called for changes of heart and mind. He was crucified.

John Wesley encouraged his followers to adhere to a prayer that included, “Use me or set me aside.” I’ve always wanted to skip that part. I don’t want to be set aside. I want to be in the thick of ministry. However, John the Baptist could have written that. He was used. Then, he was set aside. It was all God’s doing. I have to be willing for the same.

We will not be popular if we are a voice crying. Will you be part of this message in today’s world? As Oswald Chambers once observed, “One individual life may be of priceless value to God’s purposes, and yours might be that life.”

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