In Luke 3, the author tells us John the Baptist went into the country around the Jordan River, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sin, crying in the wilderness as he prepared the way for the Lord who would deliver us out of our sinful situations and show us the way to the Father.
For Christians to walk together, and keep hope alive on this wilderness journey, we must first come together in love, as commanded by Jesus, who reminded us the second of the great commandments is to love one another.
Once we leave the wilderness life through accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we become new creatures, taking on a new way of walking, talking and living in the wilderness.
It is only through Christ that we are able to walk together in love, demonstrating our love for him because he first loved us. We love him because he demonstrated his love for us on Good Friday as he hung on the cross, shed his blood, died, and laid in a borrowed tomb for three days before arising Easter morning. He was rewarded with all power from God the Father so we would be blessed with the power to love God, self and one another.
The prophet Amos said, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?”
Because of the oneness of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, we find our way out of the wilderness to the Father is through the love of the Son. When men fail to walk together, God has always had a message to get us back on the right path.
In the Old Testament, in 2 Chronicles 7:14, man was reminded of what was necessary to leave the detour of a wilderness life and return to a holy life: “If my people that are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land.”
The God I serve is not the author of confusion or division. 1 Corinthians 14:33 says, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”
The Apostle Paul reminded the church at Corinth of the spiritual qualities of love that one must have to walk together through the wilderness. He said: “Love suffereth long, it is kind, envieth not, vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth. Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things. Charity never faileth.”
The Earth, and the fullness thereof, belongs to God, and we are all sojourners, traveling through the wilderness with an obligation to love every human God has created and placed in the wilderness, including those who don’t look like us or speak our language.
Jesus was able to walk through Samaria and witness to the Samaritan woman at the well because of his love for all humanity. He was able to sit at the table and eat dinner with sinners because of his love for all humanity.
It’s time for our nation to hold onto our Christian values, regardless of our political affiliation, which side of the tracks or the bridge we live on, or what state or country we migrated from.
Christ’s mission statement – or you might call it his State of the Union address – for wilderness travelers at Luke 4:18-19 exemplified his love for the entire world: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
God realized that man needed to be revived from his “wilderness ways” of living. When we walk away from God, we find ourselves in the wilderness of sin and shame.
In the days of Noah, except for Noah, all humanity had turned its back on God. Genesis 6:5 says: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the Earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
Does this remind you of our nation today? Those were wilderness days, as man ignored the voice of God’s dreamer who preached the wrath of God for man’s failure to walk together according to the Word of God.
God’s Word fell on deaf ears as God invited Noah and his family into the ark and destroyed the rest of civilization, but hope is still alive for our nation today. There is something about wilderness living that has always been attractive to man, but when we find ourselves in the wilderness, God has always provided us with a voice that cries out to us from the wilderness to warn us and afford us another opportunity to return to his love and walk together with him in love.
The Israelites found themselves in slavery and in bondage in Egypt, and they cried out to God, and God heard their cries, as Moses became a dreamer, a messenger and another voice “crying in the wilderness.”
After several plagues, Pharaoh allowed the Israelites to leave Egypt, but not without one last effort to recapture them with their backs against the Red Sea. God kept hope alive, and allowed them to cross the Red Sea, and destroyed Pharaoh and his army.
Like John the Baptist, I believe God expects us to be “another voice crying in the wilderness” as followers of Christ, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, letting humanity know there is a way out of the wilderness.
There is one who came to make our paths straight from the White House, to Statehouses, to courthouses, and to fill every valley. There is one who came to make every mountain and hill to be brought low. There is one who came who will cause the crooked hearts to be made straight, and liars to be made honest.
There is one coming back who came and made it possible for all flesh to see the salvation of God.
As Christians, we are in the world, but not of the world. Therefore, like John the Baptist, we must not keep silent in the wilderness, but cry out to the wilderness travelers that there is hope of eternal life through Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Today’s Insights was written by the Rev. Ken Gavin, pastor emeritus of Second Baptist Church in Benton Harbor. Insights is written by area clergy to give different viewpoints on a variety of topics. It is published each Saturday in cooperation with the Berrien County Association of Churches. The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of member churches.