Without putting down people who choose to do things for Lent (fasting, not eating meat, etc.), which is getting more and more popular in Protestant churches (borrowed from Catholicism), I really just want to challenge all Christians with this thought, “Are you more like John the Baptist or Jesus?” In other words, read this description from Jesus Himself about their differences and consider the reflections. Matthew 11:16-19,
“To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: “‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”
- John was in a time of law and strict guidelines (over 600 rules ranging from diet to dress codes), Jesus represented an outpouring of grace with simplistic commands summed up in love God and people.
- John was not in relationship via friendship with sinners (it was much like “Us vs. Them”), however, Jesus is actually eating and drinking with them (ex., “The wedding at Cana”).
- Though they both taught repentance, Jesus said John’s message appeared sad (like someone singing the “blues”) however, Jesus said His message (i.e., “the Gospel”) resembled music played at a party where people danced and celebrated.
- Jesus said beforehand in Matthew 11:11 that though John the Baptist was the greatest born among men (in the Old Testament), however, “whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
- Though we still preach God’s law with repentance (now specified in the New Covenant); what is your “end game” in your relationship with God- legalism or love for God?
- Are you trapped in either of the ditches of “legalism” or “lawless” and forgot that “love for God” is really the only way to be both holy and joyful in life?
- Have you truly made the Gospel of Jesus Christ the center of your life or have you been caught up in “moral deism,” the idea that your always trying to earn the grace of God that is far away from you?
- Are you celebrating the new wineskin of God (Christ in you by the Holy Spirit) or are you trying to be a Christian without Christ?
Mark 2:20, “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”