Today’s reading is drawn from John 1:1-9.
My first assignment in publishing was to escort the former Iowa Senator Harold Hughes, truckdriver- alcoholic-turned-believer, on a portion of his book tour. While he was in Chicago, my task was to do everything possible to make certain that schedules were carefully followed, delivering the Senator to the right place at the right time.
When we first met, I knew that this rough-hewn man wasn’t impressed with me. He was a person who had known life’s brutal underside. He saw me as a naïve, clear-skinned youngster, raised in a safe, white, middleclass family, and completely unfamiliar with the real stuff of life. Unfortunately, I had work to do and couldn’t concern myself with the Senator’s contempt. My job was to serve him, maximizing his energy and attention to the interviews and appearances on the itinerary. I worked like crazy to make this happen.
At the end of third day together — the final day of the tour — Harold and I talked turkey over dinner. “You know,” he said to me, just as our entrées arrived, “you’re the kind of person I used to despise.” Now there’s an opening line to enhance your digestion. “But,” the Senator continued, “I’ve watched how hard you have worked on my behalf, and I have sincerely appreciated your serving attitude. I want you to know that I’m truly grateful for your efforts. Thank you.”
I felt as though I had just received an Academy Award. Although I didn’t overdo my “thank you,” his kind words had meant a lot. I had actually enjoyed the challenge of winning his respect by lavishing him with thankless service — making him the star. . . .
John the Baptist had an interesting job. He was, if you will, the designated front man for the Messiah. He challenged people to confess their waywardness, he told people about the coming Savior, and then he bowed out. One of my friends said it this way, “John the Baptist prepared the way, declared the way, and then he got out of the way.”
Actually, you and I have something in common with John. We are Christ’s forerunners, front men and emissaries. Our job is to lovingly confront, courageously challenge, then be invisible, allowing God to do what only He can do. We do this in our places of work, and we do this in our homes. . . .
We are Christ’s ambassadors. He has not asked us to set policy, stand before the microphones, or even try through our own wisdom and creativity to convince people of their need for a Savior. His charge is a pretty simple one: tenderly challenge people by the example of our own lives to live righteously, be ready to tell others of our love for Christ and His amazing grace, and then let God do the work.
Prepare the way, declare the way, and then get out of the way. God is very good at what He does.