Christmas Devotional

John the Baptist

John the Baptist

Saturday Dec. 14

Scripture: Luke 3:7-9, 23

John the Baptist doesn’t have what we might call pastoral sensitivity. Most pastors are thrilled to see crowds. And most of us are nice to a fault. Can you imagine a pastor addressing the Christmas crowd, larger than usual, with “You bunch of sinful snakes! Where have you been all year long? Why start coming to church now?”

Any modern pastor who does that had better already have his or her office cleared out.

John the Baptist is especially critical of the religious people who come out to see him. He says, “Do not presume to say, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor.’ For God is able to raise up from these stones children of Abraham.” (Luke 3:8)

Instead of reading these as words aimed at religious leaders 2,000 years ago, let’s hear them as directed at those of us who are the religious people of 2019. Could we be relying on our record of church attendance, mission work, or financial giving, while allowing ourselves to be blinded to the presence of sin in our lives? Are we guilty of thinking that repentance is for other people?

A basketball team that I am a fan of recently lost a game, which they should have won easily. Their coach said that one of the reasons for the embarrassing loss was that they assumed that they were better and therefore would win. This assumption took the place of the hard work that it takes to play excellently.

In Advent, let us be awakened from the spiritual laziness that often afflicts the righteous. Repentance is for us, especially for us.

Prayer: Send us prophets, O God, to speak the hard truth to us. Help us to listen and repent. May we trust in your righteousness and not our own. Amen.

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