11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
List of top 5 people I can't wait to meet in heaven(after the obvious Sunday school answer of Jesus and God)
4. Russel Crowe....uh...I mean Noah
5. John the Baptist
Nearly all of them I want to play on my Heavenly Jerusalem intermural softball team...well...probably not Paul...for some reason he does not strike me as particularly athletic. He can be our "manager". He is good at organizing things.....
But John the Baptist is such an awesome figure to me. Empowered with a prophetic ministry and the older cousin of Jesus, and the forerunner to the Christ. He lived off the grid. He ate bugs and apparently had an amazing beard.
His ministry was of one "crying in the wilderness" calling people to repentance as the King drew near. He said that he baptized with water. But the one to come, Christ, would baptize permanently(my take on Holy spirit and fire).
We are really good at half hearted confessions today. My 4 year old son has perfected the art of the sorry/not sorry. He will hit his 2 year old sister, say he doesn't want a sister anymore, and, on the threat of greater punishment he will say "sorry" and begrudgingly give her a hug. It's a process.... And we are in a process too.
In our wake we leave pain, disappointment and heartache. Often, we are not even aware of it. I have had more than one time in my life been told years later that something I had done or said had terribly hurt someone and that it had bothered them for a long time....AND I HAD NO IDEA!!! They had been walking around with a wound of my creation and I just assumed they must remember me quite fondly.
The problem for us is that we can go through the motions of showing remorse and repentance to other people quite easily when pressed. We often even mean it. At the moment we say "I am so sorry" we believe we really are as sorry as the words just indicated.
But we aren't.
When we hurt and sin against people, they are just the collateral damage to what we are really doing. Sinning against God. Each of us is an image bearer of the Creator King of the Universe. The child of a loving Father who calls us by name. The damage we often willfully cause is a strike against the very Heart of the one who loves you more than anything.
It was good for people to come to John the Baptist and confess and repent. But that was just the beginning. Human confession was a preparation for spiritual repentance.
We need to go to our Christian brothers and sisters and confront that which is going on in our hearts, to practice transparency and encouragement. To walk through the imperfection of this life with those who will often hold our hands and walk with us. And that should exist as a catalyst for the real place of repentance, change, and, healing.
Human confession is ripping out the top of the weed. In an immediate sense it makes a big difference. But the root still exists. Biding its time, and when you turn your back, there it is again, crowding out what should be growing, sucking nutrients from that which is struggling for life.
Only through the Holy Spirit and Fire is the root dealt with. When we admit and repent of our sins, are you coming to the Cross? Come to the Cross, or start a cycle of never ending vent/repent sessions with your friends that never seem to make a permanent difference. Go to the source, or continue to cycle.
Our Christian community is necessary and valuable, but they aren't the ones who have come with the Holy Spirit and fire. Do you need to change? Time to burn it down.
Don't wait this long and become a prisoner!