“Then in Jerusalem and Judea and all the region about the Jordan were coming out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Matthew 3:5-6)
Recently, I explored the haunting question asked of Elijah by God as he was hiding out in a cave on Mt. Horeb: “What are you doing here?” (1 Kings 19:9) I say that it is “haunting” because it both challenges us and convicts us. Today I pose the same question to you for self-reflection: “What are you doing here?” And there are a variety of ways I could ask it:
- “WHAT are you doing here?” – What is that you are doing with your life that is purposeful for advancing the Kingdom of God? If you aren’t doing anything to advance His kingdom on earth, then why not? If you are, is WHAT you are doing glorifying Jesus or is it drawing people’s eyes to yourself? Are you continually calling yourself to repentance? Are other’s around you inspired to repentance by your own behavior?
- “What are YOU doing here?” – What is it about you that God has chosen to empower for His kingdom purposes? What gifts and callings has He enabled in your life that define your mission in a way that it defines nobody else in your circle of influence? What makes you unique within His design?
- “What are you doing HERE?” – Are you where you know God has called you to be in your walk and ministry? Has God called you to be somewhere, but instead you are wasting your life isolated from His purposes? Are you sharing the love of God with your neighbor? Are you declaring His truth to your colleagues? Are you showing your friends what a life of joy in Christ really means? Are you advancing His Kingdom in your home, street, neighborhood, city, state, and country?
For the last question, I intentionally left out the rest of the world, because in keeping with the context of our focal passage, John the Baptist’s calling was not to the whole world, but to prepare the hearts of Israel for the coming of the Messiah.
It is often much easier to go into another place where you are unknown and share your testimony and minister the gospel of grace to those who do not know you intimately. But it is quite another thing to share grace and forgiveness with those who know you best. Those who know your weaknesses, your failures, your family history, and all the superficial things that bind us in fear from sharing the truth of the Good News of God’s restoration and reconciliation.
But Jesus calls us to minister where we are. In our city (our “Jerusalem”), in our state (our “Judea”), and in our country (our “region about the Jordan”). This includes going to the people that aren’t like you (Samaria). This includes the people that are your enemies (the Romans). This includes the people blinded by religious tradition (Pharisees and Sadducces). This includes men, women, and children. This includes liars, thieves, adulterers, blasphemers, and all other sinners as well.
We are all sinners in need of grace. And yes, grace offends the proud. But grace restores the broken. And we are called to prepare hearts for healing and spirits for restoration that only Jesus can provide. How selfish it would be if we were to hoard that healing vision for ourselves and not offer it to the beggar who doesn’t even know his need.
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written [Isaiah 52:7], ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'” (Romans 10:14-15)
So I ask you again: “What are you doing here?”
And I also ask: “How can I help?”