Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 6th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group & a men’s group, and serves on the Curriculum team.
Barbara Walters has her annual special on the 10 most fascinating people of 2012. It always raises a question for me: Are they celebrities because they are fascinating or are they fascinating just because they are celebrities? At any rate, as I composed my list of the 10 most fascinating people in the Bible, I think John the Baptist (hereafter referred to as JtB for carpal tunnel purposes) would definitely make the grade.
His birth to Elizabeth & Zechariah could be considered one of the Bible’s greatest miracles, if it weren’t overshadowed by his cousin’s birth a few months later. His sense of fashion was the stuff of legend; albeit perhaps a tad ahead of time, now that camelhair jackets are back en vogue. His unique diet will probably be mimicked in some upcoming book cashing in on the New Year’s resolution fad. (I like the take-off of the classic joke with JtB complaining, “Waiter, there’s a fly in my locusts.”) Despite JtB’s huge investment of time & energy in his ministry, he willingly urged his own disciples to leave him & follow Jesus. Jesus’ assessment of JtB’s life makes even my record-setting 11-day run of not breaking a glass mug at A&W restaurant seem a little lame. His courage to risk everything speaking truth to those in power fills one with awe. And his violent death scene would give even James Tarantino the shakes.
Aside: Referencing JtB’s death, one elderly friend claimed “this is when we Baptists started to oppose dancing.” (This might need some verification – Editor.)
Yet before eagerly answering, “JtB!” when playing the parlor game, “With whom would you like to have dinner?” we might want to reconsider. (Yeah, you thought preparing a gluten-free meal was rough. – Editor. Um, we are going to make a different point here – DL.)
There’s probably a very good reason JtB was preaching in the wilderness, not, for example, on the Temple steps. Perhaps JtB wanted to utilize the symbolic Jordan River to signify new life. Or maybe JtB wanted people to get out of the hustle & bustle of Jerusalem and come to the country to really focus on God.
I would submit for your consideration another possible reason: JtB didn’t feel welcomed in the Temple crowd. JtB’s standards for a successful faith walk were much higher than the stop-n-go worshipers in Jerusalem. JtB probably brooked very little sympathy for the Temple leaders who were more interested in the show of worship than the act of worship. To JtB some of the religious leaders’ actions may have been in sync with a credo of Sam Goldwyn (Hollywood producer): “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”
But, we, too, might find ourselves uncomfortably similar to the peers JtB was scoffing at. We might proclaim our love for the Christmas season by setting the alarm at 4:00 a.m. on Black Friday to get a head start on our Christmas shopping, but opt to pass on an Advent service because we are too tired to get up at 10:45. We could state that our children’s faith is a priority, yet our commitment to church opportunities can’t compare to that uber-important soccer/basketball game. We could answer surveys demanding “someone” do “something” to help the poor & downtrodden, while we consider renting a storage locker for all of our excess stuff. (Or we could proclaim our desire for a short, pithy Insight, yet belabor the same point. – Editor. Whoa. Somebody needs a nap – DL.)
Society can consider some actor hawking beer in commercials as the “most interesting man in the world.” But as for me, I think I’ll stick with JtB. His actions & words were in sync with his proclaimed faith. He wasn’t content to just pursue God with all of his heart, soul, mind & strength; he also passionately wanted his fellow man to know & love God more completely through His son, Jesus Christ. May we go & do likewise.
Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.