By Lisa Huddleston
John the Baptist was asked an interesting question by the priests and Levites who ventured into the wilderness to investigate him, “Who are you? What do you say about yourself?” (John 1:22, emphasis mine).
It struck me as I read this morning that this is a question I frequently face. It is commonly voiced in our culture by the words, “What do you do?” but it is also something I ponder when I am alone.
What do I say about myself to myself?
I have to confess that fairly often my words aren’t so sweet. I can be a very harsh critic, and I frequently don’t hold back on the ugly words. My poor battered mirror can testify that!
But I like how John replied. He didn’t build up his position, but neither did he tear it down. He didn’t try to make it easy for others to peg him, but neither did he hold back the truth. He simply said,
I am the voice of one calling in the desert,
‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’
How do you answer that question today? What do you say about yourself? Do you apologize for not being what you think others hold in high esteem? Do you tear yourself down with denigrating words? Well, all I can say to that is, “STOP!” I know–easy to say, oh so hard to do. But all change begins with the realization that there is a better way, and John has prepared that way for us, as well.
I love that John knew who he was, and that he answered his questioners without apology or even pride. No, he was not Elijah. No, he was not the Prophet. Instead, he was exactly whom God had made him to be—a wild hairy dude wearing camel skins and eating locusts in the desert but also the one who came to prepare the way for the Christ.
Hmmm. I like that.