John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’, for I tell you God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
I can relate to the crowd in today’s Scripture. I too was “raised in the church.” I was just like my Sexton family and and my First Baptist family — or so I assumed until I left those two nests and began to encounter life on my own as a college freshman at UNC-Chapel Hill. For the first time in my life, many varied people came my way. Doors opened to new possibilities and new identities. There weren’t familiar faces to run interference or to temper influences. Time would tell if I would turn out to be Christian in name only.
This question, though, never really leaves me. Each decade of my life has brought new people and new experiences and new influences! I find I can’t glibly, arrogantly assume my thoughts and actions are always Spirit-led just because I’m a baptized Christian or an ordained elder.
I have to examine the fruit I bear. I accept the pruning that comes from time to time. But I am grateful for the joy and appreciation that can fill my mind and heart because I believe the Gospel, that there is indeed God who created this world, and loves this world and me in it. I believe God stands at the door and knocks, and if anyone hears That voice and opens the door, God will come into that life and you will eat together. (Rev 3:20) My hope and my happiness is to live in this Way, in whatever measure God metes out to me.
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my mind be acceptable to you, Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalms 19:14)