HERALDS OF GOD’S PRESENCE
“There was a man sent from God whose name was John. This man came for a witness of the Light that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.” (John 1:6-8)
We live in very interesting times that being a Christian has become the norm that being ‘born again’ doesn’t necessarily mean that you are practically reflecting the virtues of Christianity. Much as we complain and bemoan the secularization of religion and the invasion of worldliness in the Body of Christ, these things are not entirely unexpected. It had been spoken about in biblical prophecies that gross darkness will cover the earth as the end of time nears. Darkness and Light will always interact for it’s only amidst darkness that light thrives!
For instance, when the sun completes it downward journey from east to set in the west, it leaves in its wake darkness. But something interesting happens at twilight; the stars begin to glitter and the moon begins to dance and waltz around the earth. As the sun sinks deeper into the horizon, the brightness of the moon and stars become more evident that had the sun not receded, no one would ever celebrate the twinkle of the stars or the shimmer of the moon. The brightness of the moon is an index of the amount of exposure to the rays of the sun that it has been suffused with all day. Without positioning itself to face the sun and drink the beams of the emanating solar energy, the moon would be unable to shine amidst the darkness of the night!
John the Baptist provides a typology of the Christians that will best function in our contemporary times. Prior to his public ministry, the spring of God’s word had dried up and there was celestial silence. No angels were dispatched from heaven to deliver messages of hope, goodwill and blessings to humanity. It was an eerie but divine silence that no one could puncture; until the birth of John the Baptist which was directly orchestrated by heaven. John birthed and midwifed a new epoch in his generation. He ushered in the Light of the World; Jesus Christ and presented Him to the world as a veritable and reliable witness.
Today, there is a prophetic call for men and women that will herald and usher in the Light to shine into the dark recesses of this modern age. They are to be the “Heralds of God’s presence’ whose sole passion and desire is to bear witness to the reality of God through their lives. Without a dynamic witness, Christianity would lose its relevance and Christians would be trampled upon as worthless salts rather than be the true salt of the earth; people that add value to the world. People that blaze the trail of righteousness because they are the light of the world, having received a full exposure to the holy radiation from the Light of the World himself; Jesus Christ!
Becoming a “Herald of God’s presence”(HOGP) is a tortuous process hence not too many Christians are willing and ready to pay the price. Like John the Baptist, becoming a HOGP will take you through the strait and narrow paths that wind into the wilderness where locusts cook and bake tasteless food, and you might get a sting or two from bees when you get close to their beehive to lick some honey. Though the process is laden with pain and sacrifice, the reward cannot be quantified in figures. John was the first person that had an intimate bonding with Jesus Christ while in the womb; hence it was easy for him to recognize Jesus when the latter stepped unto the shores of River Jordan. He was the first to identify who Jesus Christ was and presented Him to both the clergy and generality of the Jews. At the point he did this, no one had ever imagined that the long-sort-for messiah was standing in their midst. John became the bridge between nominal Judaism and authentic spirituality characterized by a personal relationship with God.
Though John the Baptist was eventually beheaded in a rather humiliating way, he rocked both the political and religious boats of his generation that he received a heavenly applause in return. Jesus Christ paid him due respects for his unique ministry because his was a typology of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who reveals Jesus Christ to the world. Hence Jesus used John as a landmark for measuring true spiritual greatness:
7 As they (John’s disciples) departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he of whom it is written:
‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.’[b]
11 “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear let him hear” (Matt 11:7-15)
What an amazing testimony and validation by the messiah himself. John’s violent death by the swords of Herod at the instance of Herodias has in no way reduced the example he has laid for us as believers, who have the responsibility of bearing witness about Christ to the world. For those believers who long to reflect Christ and the lifestyle of the kingdom, some of the realities you’d have to face might include some or most of the following: The Heralds of God’s presence will likely go through dire straits in addition to the following realities:
a. Loneliness: John was alone in the wilderness and everyone who seeks and desires to reflect and radiate the righteousness and power of God should be ready to go the long haul ‘alone’.
b. Unconventional but contemporarily relevant: John’s message impacted and challenged the hypocritical lifestyles of both the political and religious leaders of his generation .He rocked and shook the status quo.
c. Strict physical and spiritual discipline characterized by consistent study of the word of God and an uncompromising lifestyle of prayer and devotion to God
d. They are dead to self and ignore the opinions ( positive/negative) of their peers and the judgments and expectations of others, hence their actions and decisions are not unduly influenced by what others think or perceive about them
e. They have trained themselves to only respond to the chiming of the spiritual clock within, rather than the timing of natural men. Hence their prophetic accuracy is very sharp making them able to discern the spiritual realities of the times and what ought to be done to promote the Christian witness across the land.
f. They blaze the destiny trail by simplifying the complexities of theological realities thus making people know how to seek God by themselves. For John introduced the concept of water baptism and the message of repentance and return to God.
g. They are fearless and bold enough to confront the excesses and evils of the political and religious class, yet humble before God.
h. Their exemplary lives of purity, and integrity is a major threat to those who are enemies of the kingdom and they tangibly carry God’s presence such that people gravitate towards them for spiritual direction and the pursuit of God.
i. They find their true identity and significance in God and resist the temptation to build a spiritual empire that serves to perpetuate their selfish goals. Hence like John the Baptist, they are comfortable enough to step into the place of obscurity once they succeed in pointing others back to having a relationship with God. For John exalted Jesus far above himself and stepped out of the scene and spotlight so that men can receive the ministry of Jesus Christ.
For anyone who wants to be used of God in these end times, it would be important to dig into the scriptures to study the lives of saints that made a difference in their generation. Because they chose to live differently, they became beacons of light and symbols of true godliness and their lives impacted everyone that encountered them. Though they were not loved by all and sundry, those who hated them could not deny the grace of God that flowed through their lives!
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