by Christopher Harbin

Demonstrating Confidence and Joy
Christopher B. Harbin
Luke 3:7-18

Trust and confidence are sometimes more identifiable by their absence than by their presence. It would seem, anyway, that we more easily notice when these are lacking than when they are present. Perhaps this is due to the nature of our expectations. We expect life to follow prescribed patterns and are somewhat shocked when life does not obey them. When trust is missing, we pay attention. When we see a lack of confidence or joy, we stand up and take notice. What should it look like, after all, when our lives give regular evidence of our faith and confidence in God?

Listening to John the Baptist in Luke 3, we would not take it for a message of comfort or confidence. We would not expect this to be a message about trusting God. Listening to his words strongly critiquing the crowds who came to hear him, we should expect something else. Even so, this seems to be the very message they took to heart.

John's tactics certainly seem rather odd from our current perspectives. His words to the crowds do not decry outsiders or the society around him in general. This was not the popular televangelist critique of a larger society heading off a moral cliff. They were not words crafted in a way to comfort his followers and make them feel better about themselves. His words of critique directly targeted those coming to him for baptism. His audience was composed of those people who were already determining their need for conversion. They wanted their lives turned around and focused upon God. They entered John's presence specifically to hear instructions from him about how their lives needed transformation.

John did not lambast the society at large. His harsh criticism was for these seeking to stake a claim on belonging to God, these who wanted to participate in ushering in the reign of Messiah. These were the very people stepping forward to heed and learn from John. It was these he cast ...

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