The crowd asked John a simple question but the motivation behind the question signaled a desire to do God’s will. After they heard the Baptist speaking of the one who is to come, they asked him “what should we do.” John responded by describing for them and us what is required to be a disciple doing God’s will. We must understand that at the heart of Jesus’ mission was the formation of disciples whose hearts burn with a desire to tell others about the love of God. Jesus’ final words to the first disciples were to “go make disciples of all the nations.” The mission to make disciples is the mission of everyone who believes in Jesus Christ.
If all of us would take a minute to reflect on the things that the Baptist describes as the norm of being a disciple we will realize that even non-believers do those things. So if non-believers do good things each day, “what should we do” to show the world that we are not just good people but disciples using our gifts as God intended? That question should haunt you as it did those who asked John how to respond to God.
Yes that question should cause you great concern because if we are not using our gift as God intended we are not doing God’s will. There is a modern translation of Psalm 139 verse 16 that I love to quote. It says, “In your book is written every one of my days and the good deeds prepared in advance before every one of them was lived.”
What should we do? We should take the time to discover the good deeds God has prepared in advance for us and make sure we do them. The truth is we do worry about the final judgment of our sins so we try each day to very holy, religious and pious. Consider this scene on judgment day, God opening the book of your days prepared in advance and as God turns page after page he says I had this task for you on that day and it was unfulfilled.
What should we do? We must accept the mantle of becoming a disciples dong the will of God, using our gifts to build the kingdom and doing everything we can to avoid being just good people.
If you are listening to God speak to your hearts as I encouraged you to do last week you will hear him speak to you. God will reveal what you are gifted to do for the kingdom. That does not mean that we should not take the time to make certain that what we are hearing is God’s voice. There are other voices that seek to deceive us so test everything (1 Jn. 4:1). Now there are some simple things we can do to discern God’s voice from all the voices that try to get our attention. 1 John 4:2 tells us that what God asks of us will always acknowledge Jesus as Lord.
So the key to discerning if what we hear is of God is to determine if what we are doing proclaims Jesus Christ as Lord. John the Baptist tells us that a step in discipleship is that we will be baptized by Spirit and Fire. This is important for us because it is the Spirit that will “teach us everything and bring to mind all he ever said’ (Jn. 14:26). So a giant step in discerning God’s call is being able to test it against what Jesus taught and said. We need to pray that we receive this baptism of spirit and fire.
To receive that baptism we simply have to pray “come holy spirit come, with the fire of God’s love, come and fill my heart.” Pray that prayer each day from now until Christmas and then on Christmas embrace Christ as king and lord of your life. Then make your next prayer one where you ask God “what should I do” – and begin doing it. But let me be clear – what God calls you to do is not just a task or a part of your day to accomplish and then you are to go on with other things. What you do as a disciple is a 24 hour task that you do as part of the body of Christ.
What does this look like; let me give you some simple examples. If you are a minister of the Eucharist, then ask yourself how you can bring Christ to those you contact each and every day. Your ministry is not just to be present at mass but it is an every day, every moment ministry. If you are a lector and proclaim the word of God then extend that ministry to proclaim God in all you do every moment of your day. If your gift is to teach then extend your ministry by applying the principles of our discipleship to your life so you become a visible example of what you teach. If your gift is to assist in maintaining the buildings and grounds of your parish, then how find ways to help others maintain their spiritual lives, keep the weeds from choking the word of God that was planted in their lives.
If your gift is quiet prayer or daily adoration you have an opportunity to pray for those on the sick list or when someone asks you for prayer do not respond by saying I will – respond by praying that moment with them. If your gift is music, then sing songs of praise as you walk the aisles of the super markets, the hardware stores and on the sidewalks of your neighborhood.
No matter what gifts we use to serve the church we can every moment of our day give witness to the clerks in stores, those who come to your home to repair, install or clean. stores, the flea markets or any other public place. Let your voice give glory to God so others hear you.
What should we do? We as disciples should never compartmentalize our spiritual life from our life in the world. We can never cease being a believer and letting the world know what we profess is Jesus Christ who came for the salvation of all. We can never cease seeking ways to lead others to embrace what God offers us in Christ.