The word of God always has 2 effects, it tears us down and builds us up. It convicts us and encourages us. It call us to grieve over our past sins and to rejoice in God's mercy.
John the Baptist - He isn't just living some Bohemian or alternative lifestyle. He is not just being different for the sake of being different. John the Baptist is out in the desert because of the powerful call of God in his life.
Out in the wilderness he has heard the voice of God and has been consumed by it. God's word has taken hold of him. He is consumed by the thought that God's people need to be ready for his coming.
He is saying that it is not enough to belong physically to the people of God. We have to produce good fruit. Baptism is necessary. However, we have to be giving God the fruit that he expects from us. This means living a life of holiness, righteousness, loving God above all things, putting him first in every decision I make. It means loving my neighbour as Christ loves me, laying down my life for my neighbour, to serve, to be kind, to build up my brothers and sister.
There is no room for complacency. Every single day I need to be asking myself, 'what is the fruit that God expects of me today?' If I am not living that I need to ask God for forgiveness and for grace to live the life he has in store for me.
That is the tearing down part. But, what about the building back up?
Jesus is the bearer of the Spirit, he baptizes with Spirit and Fire. He is the perfect ruler, perfectly just and perfectly merciful. He comes to bring salvation to the poor, for the little ones, for those in captivity. He comes to set everyone free.
He has all the qualities needed. He has the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the lord.
- Wisdom and Understanding: He will be a good administrator of all the goods of the land, all the resources of the Kingdom. He will know how to make wise decisions.
- Counsel and Strength: He is a strategist. He will go to war against the forces of evil. He will slay the wicked. He will fight everything that is disordered.
- Knowledge and Fear of the Lord: He comes to bring us into deeper obedience with God. He knows God. He comes to reveal God completely and fully to us. If we listen to his voice we will be pleasing to God.
The Good News is that Jesus is coming. He can come right now. I can enter his kingdom now. I can take him as my ruler right now. I can choose to enter his kingdom. I can take him to be my Lord, ruler, saviour. I can begin to enjoy the benefits of being a citizen in God's kingdom right now.