Christmas Reflection: John the Baptist calls us to repentance–and to action.

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The word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. He went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?”

Luke 3:2b,3,10

Make the words of the people your prayer today: “What then should I do?” Watch and listen for God to answer your question.

Going Deeper

Read Luke 3:2-18.

John the Baptist called all people to repentance, to ask forgiveness and turn away from sin. But John didn’t just want people to say they were sorry and then go back to life as usual. John called them—and calls us—to orient our lives toward God. We are challenged to make changes—sometimes radical ones—to our lifestyle to get our priorities in line with God’s. John had specific instructions to the people who came to him:

John challenged those with two tunics to share with those who have none. Do you have more than you need? Maybe it’s clothes, space in your home, food, time, or money. How is God calling you to share your abundance?

John directed tax collectors to collect only what was prescribed. Have you ever been pressured at work to fudge things a little for the benefit of the company? Do you believe that God meant it when he commanded us not to lie? What will you do the next time someone encourages you exaggerate or tell a little white lie?

To the soldiers, John said, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages”  (Luke 3:14). Hopefully you haven’t been doing a lot of outright extortion this week. But maybe you’ve been toying with lesser forms of extortion. Do you know how to push the buttons of the people around you—and use that knowledge to get what you want?

That last directive is a good reminder to us all—how many of us haven’t, at one time or another, complained about our paychecks?

Imagine you are traveling across the desert to see the prophet, John, whom you’ve heard so much about.

  • With whom are you traveling? Maybe your kids and your spouse? Other moms, dads, or grandparents? People you work with? People in your small group at church?
  • When it is finally your turn to see John the Baptist, what will he say to the group of people you came with?
  • Ask the prophet, “What then should I do?” How will he answer you?

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