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John the Baptizer might be best described as a man full of courage and passion. He was radical and unafraid to let anyone know what he stood for. Before he started his public ministry, he lived alone in the wilderness, wearing camel's hair and a leather belt and his food was locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4). The wilderness where John preached was a symbol of spiritual barrenness of the nation of Israel. The people of Israel were in a wilderness of unbelief and confusion on matters truth about the Kingdom of God. The priesthood was corrupt and scribes and Pharisees living in hypocrisy. John was a man of distinction in many respects. He was a Nazarite which means he didn't just eat anything that came his way; he was a desert man and a prophet. He knew who he was and clearly understood his mission. He dared to be different and walked the talk (Luke 3:11).

For John sin is sin (he saw things as black and white) and those who refuse to repent and lead holy lives will burn in hell fire. John may have been a voice crying in the wilderness, but when he spoke people listened. It was the powerful preaching of the good news by John that attracted the masses and not miracles. He boldly proclaimed God's truth (John 10:41). Even those who did not like his ruling had no choice but to listen to his sermons (Mark 6:20). He possessed a strong sense of justice and was dissatisfied with anything but action. John was a man of prayer and taught his disciples how to seek God's face through prayer (Luke 11:1). John was a man of outstanding humility. Hunger for political and religious power and positions was never in his agenda. He evenadmitted publicly that he was not the messiah but a voice crying to prepare the way of the Lord  (Luke 3:15-17; see John 3:30).

His single theme was True Repentance and fruits that accompany a repentant heart. Repent is a slippery word in many circles today. For some it merely means to feel remorse about something done or maybe just to confess with no real hope to stop the sin. But in biblical terms, to repent means to alter ones direction and perspective on something, to change sides or points of view. The bible says, “for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

Another very critical misconception John seeks to correct is “inherited salvation” (Luke 3:8). The Jews of John’s day thought that mere ancestral ties with Abraham would be good enough to guarantee them God's salvation. It's sad that we still have some with similar thinking in our time. That one can be born a Christian or that church attendance can make one a saved child of God is a lie (John 1:12, Romans 10:9, Ephesians 2:8-9). John warns the Jews of his day and all of us today that such thoughts of “ancestral inherited salvation” should never be entertained in our minds. Inherited salvation is no salvation at all. To come to Jesus we must do it on his terms, not through some form of associations. That your parents or grandparents are Christians does not make you one. That God can change stones into his children indicates the reality that God's power is what produces new life (Luke 3:8; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

True repentance has the ability to produce results and John provides some practical ways. Firstly, to the general public John says true repentance means embracing generosity, the willingness to share with those in need (Luke 3:11). Secondly, for the tax-collectors who were notorious for overcharging, true repentance means honesty (Luke 3:13). Finally for the soldiers who often misused their authority, true repentance is gentleness (Luke 3:14). Friends if our faith in Christ is genuine, it will impact the way we live our daily lives. If you claim to be a Christian and live like a non-Christian, you are just playing church for convenience. You need to get real, which is the message of Christ through John the Baptizer.

Pastor's Weekly Corner

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Lavington United Church was founded in 1960 through a joint effort of the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), Methodist Church of Kenya (MCK) and the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) as a community church to minister to the Lavington community. <<Read full History>>

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