I’m Committed To…?

In talking about John the Baptist, Luke writes, “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord…. And he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” – Luke 1.15-17

I simply can’t get enough of who John is, what’s he’s been called to do, and how he amply and willingly fulfills the calling in which God has given him. Moreover, it’s so awfully blatant that he has to be a man of humility in order to fulfill the purpose for His life. The purpose…

We’re reading Karl Barth for one of my theology classes, and he does an exegesis over the first chapter of Luke. Here’s what he has to say of the wonderfully heroic character of whom I admire:

“He ‘will be great before the Lord.’ This being great is not found where we usually speak of greatness. As above stated, it is being righteous before God which matters here, something which is hidden. This greatness will surely appear very small to men. John will be called great not because of his qualities or his abilities, but because he is great before God. He has nothing to glory in and nothing to demand; his greatness consists entirely in what he is charged with, charged like a student with his problem, like a carrier with his load, a servant with a command. It is this ‘charge’ which makes him great. Because God has presented him with this problem, this load, this command, and for no other reason, ‘many will rejoice at his birth.’ For this problem, this lead, this command will bring joy to man, many people because God, before whom he is great, sends them his saint.”

Righteousness cannot be given to us of our own accord. It cannot be attained by our own volition. It’s is merely bestowed for and by the sake of God’s grace. John was a fool for Christ! John was a harbinger for somebody that He knew to be Truth, even though He’d never seen or met Him until the day of Jesus’ baptism. John has been accredited wisdom and righteousness because God wanted to make Him great. Great because people had to know His Son. Great because He wanted to renew His people. Great because He had a plan for the salvation of His children.

But this greatness was costly. This greatness was not of worldly recognition or pleasure. This greatness required asceticism and hardship for John. This greatness required a giving of one’s life for the sake of the Word in which we know to be true.

I’m not going to lie – I want to be great. But this greatness isn’t the same as it looked two years ago, or even last year for that matter. College has been an all consuming entity in which I’ve made myself the focal point of life, for myself and everybody I’ve met, but God’s steadily deterring me from this paradigm. And thank goodness for it. This greatness that John has, though, that’s what’s appealing to me now. To be seen as a saint in the eyes of God. To be called into greatness because of the need that God has for us. Because of the love that God has for us. To be great because Jesus needs to be known! Sadly, I often get confused and disillusion myself in what this “greatness” looks like. I think we all do, actually. In the upside-down Kingdom that clashes with our own, greatness means meekness. It means servanthood. It means sacrifice. Dang. I’m suddenly realizing how audacious a statement it is to want to be great. Wait, no. I’m suddenly realizing how foolish I am for even thinking it’s something I can strive for. Ugh… this is confusing. I guess that’s what happens to a simply person trying to follow a complex Jesus. I’ll think about this later.

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~ by Chris Kyle on February 3, 2010.

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