I have been listening to an Advent message from last Christmas, given by one of my favorite speakers and authors. Using the story of John the Baptist from Matthew 3 the message addresses the call to repent John used to reach those who were soon to hear the words of Christ calling them to leave all they knew and follow Him.
I know, it’s not even Thanksgiving here in the United States, and I am talking about Christmas. But not really. I am talking about preparing.
Preparing my heart, making things right, changing my view, changing my approach to this time of year.
John had challenged his audience in Matthew 3 to think about the way they were living and find a different way to walk. To find a different way to see each other. Some balked at the idea, saying in essence, “Do you know who I am? Do you know my family’s lineage? I don’t have to change the way I am” (Matthew 3:7-10).
And in John’s perfectly direct way, he said, “Yes, yes, you do. If you want to understand Jesus and His purposes, you do need to change.” John was calling us out to acknowledge who they were and to choose to change. To stop stealing, to stop manipulating, to stop being greedy, stop extorting those under your authority, (see Luke 3).
John was basically telling them to “clean house” on the inside, to prepare their hearts for Jesus – whose life and ministry will turn the world upside down.
Advent — even in November, is all about seeking to set our hearts, like we would set our tables for Thanksgiving, so that we will be ready to join in the celebration. To be ready to join with our brothers and sisters in Christ, to join with those who are seeking and those who have never heard, to come together to prepare our hearts for this incredible blessing of Christmas.
John the Baptist said it best, This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him’” (Matthew 3:3).