Sometimes knowing who you aren’t is as powerful as knowing you are. Renouncing actions and dispositions to maintain a character, faithful to a vibrant relationship with God is a powerful step in expressing our truest self. It’s a step that declares, “I am so much more than my desires. In Christ, I am so much more than my mistakes.”
Equally freeing is the ability to say, “I am not my own savior.”
In John 1:19-27, John the Baptist starts with who he is not. He knows crowds are coming to see and hear him. The ones in the crowd questioning his identity are the “more intelligent” spiritual leaders of the society. They are the ones deemed capable of seeing through his exterior to make a judgment about who John actually is. After establishing he is not the Messiah, Elijah, or the Prophet they were expecting, John is free to state plainly: “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘clear the way for the Lord’s coming!”
Our identities and calling beg expression. Our God given destinies are unique and equally valuable in the eyes of God. John the Baptist’s calling was a spiritual landscaper. He was cutting the cover crops to prepare for the planting and harvest.
The moment John expresses his identity, his actions and motives are questioned.
The question: “What right do you have to baptize?”
Our question: “What right do you have to believe you are walking out the will of God?”
John’s answer: “This baptism is merely pointing to someone greater. This is a precursor to a better baptism from Jesus, himself. I am nothing compared to Him.
Our answer: “This new life we live is the product of someone greater. It is a shadow of the greater joy of spending eternity with God. I am valuable to God.”
John 1:12 says, “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.” The paradox of our identity as children of God is one of worthiness. Because of our former life, we are unworthy to even be God’s slave, yet because of the life of Christ we are worthy of the riches of Heaven.
The right God gives us to live fully from our identity as children of God is good news.