The Unlikely Messenger

Author: Linda Kowatch

Matt 3:3 “This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'”

In the Advent Season leading up to Jesus’ birth and ministry on this earth, we almost always hear some reference to the story of John the Baptist.  We know him as the guy who came out of the wilderness and had a strange diet of honey and locust.  

It reminds me of the day Karen and I were about to hike up Flagstaff Mountain for the first time and came across a mountain lion sighting warning sign.  We froze, wondering if we should continue our trek.  Suddenly a young man with matted hair and bare feet appeared with his dog.  As we stood staring at the sign and startled by him, he immediately said, “Hi!”  

I replied, “Hi! Is it safe for us to hike?” 

He said, “Yes.  That mountain lion doesn’t want to eat you guys.  He wants a deer or other small animal.  Just be aware and more than likely you will scare him away just by talking.  Have a great day!”  And then he was gone.

For some reason I trusted the message of that mountain man.  While he was a stranger with an appearance very different from my own, I trusted his message.  John the Baptist had a message that could be trusted.  John knew that his life was being used to point to Christ.  He knew he was just the messenger, but the message he carried would point others to God.  People trusted that message and many were baptized.

I often wonder if I am living my life in such a way that points others to God?  Sometimes I am more concerned with the words that I use or how I present the words that I get in the way of the message.  I think John the Baptist is an example of someone who understood his mission:  proclaim the message in word and deed.  He spent his life proclaiming the message and baptizing people.  Am I living the Gospel message in all my words and my actions?  Like John the Baptist each of us is an unlikely messenger.

God, give me the courage and grace to be like John the Baptist to point others to you through my words and actions.  May You be the message and purpose of my life.  Amen. 

Linda is a student at Lexington Theological Seminary.  She served as the seminarian at First Congregational for the fall semester.  She lives in Osceola, IN where she is the Student Pastor at Zion United Church of Christ in South Bend, IN.

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