‘’Jesus spoke about his cousin John in Luke 7:28,- “I tell you, among those born of women, there is no one greater than John, yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (KJV)
I recently had the pleasure of reading an excellent book about John the Baptist written in the 1800s. After digesting the messages and overawed by the simple but pious life the man lived, I thought it would be interesting to compare his person and ministry with popular pastors of today.
I was told by the book that he was born in the late 1st century (circa 5 B.C.), that St. John the Baptist was a Jewish prophet who preached the imminence of God’s final judgment. It is believed that he was born somewhere in Judea, located near Jerusalem, Israel, according to the Old Testament. A priest of the order of Abijah, John the Baptist gained recognition as a prophet, had several disciples and baptized a number of people, including Jesus Christ, according to scripture. Christians believe that John the Baptist was the last great prophet before Jesus Christ came to earth. He was reportedly beheaded circa 30 A.D.
John’s calling was to announce the arrival of the kingdom of heaven here on earth. His message was simple: “Repent (alter your ways) for the kingdom of heaven is here.” This message caused hundreds of thousands if not millions, to turn from their selfish, sinful ways, thus preparing them to meet Jesus Christ who would take their repentance and cleansing further by baptizing them with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Now Jesus himself said that the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven would be greater than John. Anyone today who believes a calling of that magnitude to be on their life should at least be preaching that same repentance and kingdom message. Jesus was in agreement with John’s preaching and so continued with his cousin’s message (Matthew 4:17).
Hmmm…..Now, let us come closer to our time…
During a recent homily preached by Pope Francis at Rome’s Gesu Church, he warned that “when a Christian has no difficulties in life – when everything is fine, everything is beautiful – something is wrong.” It leads us to think that he or she is “a great friend of the spirit of the world, of worldliness.” The Pope noted this “is a temptation particular to Christians.”
We don’t hear much of these messages announced today in our modern day churches, especially the repentance half as instructed by Jesus. Also, I strongly believe largely because pastors and preachers think of their supposed calling of following Jesus as a career, they are fearful that if they should re-echo such message of admonishment like the Pope, it will negatively affect their offerings. That said, please examine the comparisons below between John and today’s popular modern pastor:
1.) John the Baptist grew and developed in obscurity. Modern-Day Pastor was semi-hidden for a time.
2.) John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey. Modern-Day Pastor dines on the finest cuisines.
3.) John the Baptist likely had brown teeth (locust juice stains?). Modern-Day Pastor has sparkling white teeth.
4.) John the Baptist lived in the wilderness. Modern-Day Pastor recently moved into a palatial estate in a posh neighborhood where a portion of the annual estate security fees goes toward keeping John the Baptist’s types out of the neighborhood.
5.) John the Baptist never had mass media, a traveling band, promoters, and products for sale, books, royalties, name or initials engraved on a super-expensive Blazer Jacket, and only spent one night in Herod’s palace. Modern-Day Pastor is afforded all the helps and perks John never had and more.
6.) John the Baptist attended a huge, formal governmental ball with many dignitaries present where he stated simply to the top leader and in front of all present, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Shortly after making this pronouncement, John the Baptist was rewarded with decapitation. Modern-Day Pastor attended a lavish birthday ceremony with many government officials and mass media coverage where he thanked God for the life of James Ibori, the self-styled best governor of our time, Ibori he said is a blessing to Delta State, the country and even the world. He admonished those present at the cutting of the cake, with its convicted celebrant absent, to emulate the exemplary life of the jail-bird. After which he received resounding rounds of applause.
7.) John the Baptist relied solely on the sole of his feet for mobility. Modern day pastor move around town in chauffeur driven state of the art cars. (Oh less I forget, on standby is a Private Jet or two to ease long distance travelling. That’s the standard requirements these days, so that modern day pastor can cope with the rigors of the call to serve God).
8.) John the Baptist said “I must decrease.” Modern-Day Pastor promotes himself constantly.
Decide for yourself:
Are they announcing the same message? Are they announcing the same Kingdom? Are they both representing Jehovah God?
Maybe John misunderstood…
I often have puzzled over this thing we designate a “call.” What is it? How does it come? How do you know when it does?
Much I do not understand, but there is one thing I am solidly convinced of: a CALL is not a CAREER. The pivotal distinction between the two may be the most important thing we ever understand about the call of God, especially in these times.
The words themselves immediately suggest one difference. Our English word career comes from the French carriere, meaning “a road,” or “a highway.” The image suggests a course one sets out on, road map in hand, goal in sight, stops marked along the way for food, hotel lodging, and fuel stations.
Following Jesus is not a career, or a “cultural veneer” that reduces Christianity to social work, to follow Jesus is to “go with him, behind him: on the same journey, the same path “in which,” there will always be difficulties,” persecution.
A calling, which is something we do for God, is replaced by a career, which threatens to turn the modern day pastor the god of his followers. A career is something we choose for ourselves; a calling is something we receive. A career is something we do for ourselves; a calling is something we do for God. A career promises status, money or power; a calling generally promises difficulty and even some suffering – and the opportunity to be used by God. A career is about upward mobility; a calling generally leads to downward mobility.
“For we are not, like so many, (like hucksters making a trade of) peddling God’s Word [shortchanging and adulterating the divine message]; but like [men] of sincerity and the purest motive, as [commissioned and sent] by God, we speak [His message] in Christ (the Messiah), in the [very] sight and presence of God.” 2 Corinthians 2:17 (Amplified)
Mr. Modern day “pastor”, are you really what God intended? God is watching you!