You may remember a while back that I felt like the Lord put me on a path of deeply connecting with the ministries of Elijah and John the Baptist. It's a forerunner ministry. Since the initial nudge of the spirit to go in this direction, I've renamed the youth group "Forerunner Youth", I've headed up a comic series about the life of John the Baptist, and did a mix tape called "Johnny's iPod". It was one of those times where I was so excited about the new direction and I identified with it so closely that I knew this was the right direction for me. Little did I know, God was taking me on a path of discovering the scope of ministry as well as the message of a forerunner.
When I first felt called to identify with this forerunner type of ministry, I had some preconceived notions about what a forerunner ministry looks like. Here are some of the myths that I adopted...
- Myth 1: John the Baptist's ministry was mainly for the person who grew up in church. The Pharisee. I drew this from John's scolding message to the Pharisees.
- Myth 2: John the Baptist's ministry was nothing but "Repent". If you don't like it, oh well. Just repent.
- The forerunner ministry was intended for anybody who hears it, saved or lost.
- The forerunner message was one of practical holiness and SOCIAL JUSTICE.
Not gonna go too deep here. But I will say that Luke 1:17 outlines the ministry scope of a forerunner. "...To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." I assumed this to be in the context of church people because, honestly, I was looking through my own glasses. John was set apart for God from birth. So what better person to speak to the church folk than someone who knows the church culture. Anything else would be outside of his grace right? Wrong. God didn't qualify john based on his upbringing. The Spirit was on John from birth in a powerful way. The Spirit thrust John into this ministry. Also, Luke 3:3-6 says the following:
"He (John) went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "A voice of one calling in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And ALL people will see God's salvation.'"
There's so much more there but I don't want to lay it all out for you now.
MYTH 2 KILLER:
John preached repentance AND its relationship to the tangible kingdom of God! (You don't know how free I felt when I realized this.) John preached, "REPENT, FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND!" (Matthew 3:2). The repentance message and the kingdom message go hand in hand. It's crazy because I've always had a love for both but I didn't know how to put it together until now. I read the following verses and it confirmed so much in me. This verse comes right after John is making mountains of pride low by speaking some hardcore truth.
"What should we do then?" the crowd asked.
John answered, "Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same."
Even tax collectors came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?"
"Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told them.
Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?"
He replied, "don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely - be content with your pay."
What is John doing here? He is turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. John didn't tell the sinners, "Look, get saved and try to live a good life until you die." He gave them practical steps of repentance to follow. And guess what...ALL OF THEM ARE SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES. Rooted in a foundation of biblical holiness, John gives the people practical tips that have both spiritual and social implications and benefits.
So lately I've been attracted to social justice issues and I didn't know why until I looked deeper into the life of John the Baptist. I have recently been made aware of many Christian nonprofit organizations that deal with injustice. Awesome stuff. Right now, I'm just really seeking God as to what role He wants me to play in this chapter of my life. He's given a lot of understanding so far. And we're acting on what we know. But I just sense that there is more. This "art meets social justice" world is new for me. (I should have seen this coming with the whole desire to do a tour with the proceeds supporting kids in Africa.) At least now I know WHY I'm doing music...partially. I believe that I'm to declare righteousness and justice into the land. But what does that looks like in more detail? How does that affect Forerunner Youth? I guess we shall soon see.
THANKS FOR READING. PLEASE PRAY. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO COMMENT. IF THIS ENCOURAGED YOU, PLEASE SHARE.