Activated - - NEWS - By Abi May

The min­istry of John the Bap­tist mostly pre­ceded that of Je­sus. John’s mes­sage was one of re­pen­tance; he pro­claimed the com­ing of the Sav­ior. Although some of his fol­low­ers went on to be­come dis­ci­ples of Je­sus, oth­ers 1 ev­i­dently stayed at John’s side.

John is tra­di­tion­ally rec­og­nized as hav­ing been a zeal­ous teacher. Per­haps his strict­ness could be partly at­trib­uted to be­ing a Nazarite from birth, which meant he was not per­mit­ted to drink al­co­hol or cut his hair, and also had to abide by other re­stric­tions. Ev­i­dently he 2 also ex­pected quite a bit from his fol­low­ers, as on one oc­ca­sion, some of them asked Je­sus: “Why is it that we and the Pharisees rig­or­ously dis­ci­pline body and spirit by fast­ing, but your fol­low­ers don’t?” 3

Per­haps they were puz­zled—and a lit­tle en­vi­ous—of the more re­laxed lifestyle of Je­sus’ dis­ci­ples. Maybe there was even a bit of self-right­eous chid­ing in this ques­tion, im­ply­ing that it was high time for Je­sus to make His fol­low­ers shape up. In any case, Je­sus replied: “Can the friends of the bride­groom mourn as long as the bride­groom is with them? But the days will come when the bride­groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.” It 4 sounds like He was say­ing, “Lighten up. Trou­bles will come soon enough, so en­joy these mo­ments of peace while you have them.”

We all some­times make our lives harder than they need to be, by tak­ing on more than God ex­pects of us. We con­vo­lute what could be straight­for­ward. Af­ter all, the main thing He wants is love. The prophet 5 Micah put it this way: “He’s al­ready made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is look­ing for in men and women. It’s quite sim­ple: Do what is fair and just to your neigh­bor, be com­pas­sion­ate and loyal in your love, and don’t take your­self too se­ri­ously.” 6

Sure, there are oc­ca­sions when our path is rough or there are life-chang­ing de­ci­sions to be made. But when we’re not in the midst of such crit­i­cal times, maybe we should avoid get­ting tied up in knots try­ing to fig­ure out mi­nor de­tails of life. Oth­er­wise, we could end up miss­ing out on the full­ness of joy and peace that comes with God’s pres­ence. 7

Life is not al­ways com­pli­cated, and de­ci­sions are not al­ways ma­jor. Let’s re­mem­ber that, and when ap­pro­pri­ate, let’s lighten up.

1. See John 1:35–37. 2. See Num­bers 6. 3. Matthew 9:14 MSG 4. Matthew 9:15 5. See John 15:9. 6. Micah 6:8 MSG 7. See Psalm 16:11; Isa­iah 26:3; 62:5.

Abi May is a free­lance writer and ed­u­ca­tor in Great Bri­tain.

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