Wait, wait ... have you ever heard this one …
“But what should I do?!” I cried out to my mother in desperation, “I’m bored!”
Yep. That’s what I thought. Whether you have kids or you remember being one yourself, this situation and state of mind is universal.
Well, for me, this was a regular occurrence in the Elder household throughout my childhood years, and while my behavior certainly left something to be desired, my mother’s calming and loving response certainly elevated her to sainthood.
“You can help me,” she would always reply, “and together we can make both of our days better.”
Hmmm, that wasn’t exactly was I was expecting… and it certainly didn’t sound like any fun.
And I’m pretty certain that the so-called “brood of vipers” (i.e., tax collectors, soldiers, and… well, let’s be honest, the likes of you and me) that John was addressing on the banks of the Jordan River felt the same.
For, when out of desperation for their souls they asked “What then should we do?” John gives the saintly mother (or rather Kingdom of God) response and in three examples tells them to … Love your neighbor and put others before themselves.
If you’ve got an extra coat or food, give it to someone without, says John. Need to collect what’s owed you, take not a penny more. Have a job protecting others, do it with love and respect for your neighbor and your job and for nothing more.
“Hmmm,” I can hear them sigh collectively, “That’s not exactly what we were expecting… and it certainly doesn’t sound like any fun.”
And then, as if to drive the point home, John does the incredible (and by incredible, I mean incredible, for who doesn’t like the limelight … even for just a moment) and instead of accepting their accolades and vote for the Messiah-ship, he not only concedes the role, but selflessly admits that he is “not even worthy to untie” the sandal of the one who is.
You see, just as my mother suggested I help her to make our days better, John was urging the children of God (then and now) to join him in casting off desperation through acts of love and selflessness, therefore participating in and adding to the Kingdom of God, and making their life and the world better. But then again, it wasn’t exactly what they/we wanted to hear, and it certainly wasn’t what they/we wanted to do.
Are you heeding John’s call? How are you helping to bring about the Kingdom of God in your daily life? And how can you help him, me, my mother make the world a better place.