I've been reflecting on the ministry of John the Baptist. Not so long ago I preached on the passage about him in Luke 3. I highlighted the way John demanded a fruitfulness from his listeners and modeled a humility in the way he sign-posted people towards Jesus ... and then how this combination of fruitfulness and humility is what opens peoples' ears and builds credibility in a society where such credibility is lacking.
I concluded my sermon with these words:
For me 2008 will always be associated with two men. Talk about fruitfulness. Talk about sign-posting. Talk about building the credibility that opens peoples' ears. Talk about being prophetic and preparing the way for Jesus ... here it is!
One man is associated with the cavernous rocks holding in a remote mountain stream. The other is associated with the cavernous buildings holding in a busy urban street.
Both men stepped through the door to become fruitful. Both men stood next to Jesus as signposts. Both men died trying to save the lives of others.
Tony McLean died in that stream. Austen Hemmings was stabbed to death on that street.
God may not expect us to die like them. But there is no reason why we cannot live like them.
[NB - for overseas readers, the sacrificial deaths of these two young men (both sons of Baptist pastors and active Jesus-followers) have been huge events in NZ in 2008]
After I had finished preaching, a woman whom I respect highly greeted me and said: "I guess I'll go out and try to be a better bloke."