There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”
They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.”
Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
John 1:6-8, 19-28
In this season, we’re reminded that we exist in the in between. We exist today in the Now, but Not Yet. The time where the Kingdom has come, but not fully. We celebrate the defeat of sin and death, and look forward to the time when our Lord will come back in all strength and power, not as a powerless baby, but as a mighty king.
In Advent we anticipate this coming and recognize that our lives should look different as a result. In recognition of the actions of our God in the past, and in anticipation of future events, we live differently to be a light to those around us. We live differently to be a voice calling in the wilderness, calling everyone that will hear to enter the Kingdom of God.
It’s in John’s testimony that we receive a portrait of the Church’s mission, and thus, the mission of every Christ follower. John recognizes and freely confesses that he is not the light, he’s not the main character or the star of the show.
This way of life, should we emulate it, is very different from the way of life our society advertises as the ‘ideal way’.
The ideal way, says the western world, is to place ourselves in the spotlight. We create our ideal selves on Instagram and we make sure to add all of the funniest moments of our life on our Snapchat story. We’re reminded through the various sorts of media that assaults our senses every day that we should view ourselves as Number 1, except for (perhaps) on some special days (for example, on Giving Tuesday—which only comes after Black Friday and Cyber Monday).
Our society pushes us to make ourselves to be our own god—saying that we are worthy of our own worship.
John stands as a testimony among a host of others of the life we’re called to live. He desired to minimize himself as much as possible to maximize the recognition that Jesus would receive.
We see this again in John 3:30, “He must become greater; I must become less.”
All of us have been given a platform. We all can point to something to bring that thing glory. The temptation certainly is to have that thing be ourselves.
John’s testimony is an example to us. An example to use our position in life, whatever it is, to call others to set their eyes on God—not themselves, not us, but God. This is John’s message to us today, whether we’re at home with the kids, in class at school, sitting at a desk, buying feed, or having dinner with our family.
Today, how are you using the position that God has placed you in to be a ‘voice calling in the wilderness’?