And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Mark 1:4
Years ago, a Christian baroness living in the highlands of Nairobi, Kenya, hired a young national to be her houseboy. After three months, he asked the baroness for a letter of reference. He wanted to work for a friendly sheik that lived some miles away. The baroness, not wishing the houseboy to leave, offered to increase his pay. The lad shared he was not moving on to receive a higher salary. Some time ago he had decided to become a Christian or a Muslim; it was that search which brought him to work for the baroness. He wanted to see how Christians lived. Now he was going to work for a believer in Islam. Then he would make his decision.
The young man wasn’t going to read Christianity’s Bible. He wasn’t going to look at his sins and see that only God’s Son could take away those sins. He was going to pick a faith solely on the basis of living advertisements. The baroness, realizing she had failed as a living advertisement for Jesus, was embarrassed. She could only say, ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’”
Two thousand years ago, John the Baptist came to be a living advertisement for Jesus, the Savior of the world. From before his birth until the day he died, John faithfully pointed to the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. It is a sad thing more Christians don’t realize that they, like John, are living advertisements to the Lord. Like little children who watch their parents, the unbelievers of this world are watching us, Jesus’ followers. Just as little children judge whether their parents are practicing what they preach, these searchers are constantly deciding the merits of the Lord by how we, His disciples, live our lives. If we say all the right things, but do all the wrong things, they will assume that Jesus has nothing to offer them and ignore His call to eternal life. That is tragic.
Knowing this, we, Christ’s people, need to avoid the hypocritical lifestyle of the baroness. We should never be compelled to say to the crowds of evaluating spectators, “Why didn’t you tell me you judged the Savior by what I do?” Because Jesus has suffered and sacrificed His life for us, we, with thankful hearts, are privileged to spend our days as living billboards advertising Jesus.
Excerpt from The Lutheran Hour sermon preached on January 12, 2003