READ: Luke 3: 7 –14


“First go and prove by the way you live that you have repented. … The crowds asked him, “What should we do?”  Luke 3: 8-10


        Frequently, when my adult class focuses on a biblical personage, I will seek out information from the group as to their prior knowledge about the individual to be studied.  For example, during the introductory session on John the Baptist the following information was elicited: he had a strange diet; wore unusual clothing even for those times; baptized many people; and called on his hearers to repent.  All this information was accurate but what seemed to missing was any sense of a potential message to us today.  Although numerous commentators have remarked on the seemingly ignorance of believers concerning biblical content, I suspect that the root of the problem lies in that much biblical teaching is about rather than designed to promote understanding or prompts to action.


        Isolated facts do not necessarily form a firm basis for developing Christian understandings and/or perspective.  This is not to claim that facts are unimportant but rather an attempt needs to be made to translate the information into potential applications to present day life.


        For example, repentance was an integral element of John’s message but what is his message for us?  Superficially, it means that we should regret our wronging another. However, does our apologizing and even offering to make amends satisfy the essence of repentance?  Further, who should be the real recipient of our lament – the injured party or our Lord?  Would John the Baptist be satisfied with our acts?  I believe not.  He insisted that we must prove by the way we live that we have truly repented.  One might be surprised that he did NOT tell his listeners to fast, spend more time in church, or to pray.  No, he emphasized that the fruit of repentance should result in us to becoming more sensitive to our needy neighbors and its outcome should result in greater justice and mercy.


        When one of his listeners asked, “What should we do?” John the Baptist gave them concrete suggestions for changes in their lives.  First of all, showing compassion by sharing, is this call applicable to us today?  What about his instruction to the tax collectors and soldiers?  They were not counseled to seek different employment but rather to carry out their obligations fairly and honestly.  However, the underlying message was to be satisfied and content with what they had.  Does that message resonate with us today?  To be content and trust God for our daily needs is the essence of faith, while greed pulls us to grasp at money and material things in order to guarantee not only our daily needs but to accumulate earthly treasures.


        How should we living in the modern day world respond to the query: “What should we do then?” Our response as believers would seem to be a simple prayer, “Lord, what are trying to say to me?  And what SHOULD I be doing?”  Amen