There should be no cookie-cutter Christian where everyone looks the same and acts the same. That does not reflect our creative, diverse God.
Reference: v.11 "I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." (NIV Bible)
Explore: I recently spent the evening with a group of radio announcers. I hadn't met many of them before but had heard their voices on the radio a number of times. Upon meeting each presenter I was totally blown away with their appearance. I realised that I had come with a preconceived idea of what each person would look like having only heard their voice and I got it wrong on so many occasions! One guy with a deep mature voice was actually quite young with a real baby face and a vibrant personality. Another guy who was up to date with current music and had a young family turned out to be much older and less fashionable than I had imagined. It was amazing how wrong I had been. My preconceived ideas of what these people would look like was totally off track.
2000 years ago people had preconceived ideas of what the Messiah would look like, and even how his 'messenger' would act. When John the Baptist turns up they are intrigued; when Jesus turns up they are curious; when the disciples are chosen they are baffled! This was not how the scribes and the Pharisees had invisioned it; this was not what Israel was expecting. And now that John is in prison even he and his disciples are starting to question everything. Yet Jesus did not come to fulfil people's expectations, He came to show us who God really was and that blew the minds of everyone's preconceived ideas!
Application: We often have a preconceived idea of what a follower of Jesus should look like – well dressed, nicely mannered, friendly and accommodating. However when we read through scripture we see that many of God's representatives fall short of these surface expectations. And to be honest, God did not really care! He has never been worried about the outward appearance of someone but looks straight at their heart. There should be no cookie-cutter Christian where everyone looks the same and acts the same. That does not reflect our creative, diverse God. And yet so often we put our own expectations on other people's faith. We need to keep reading the gospels and discover that all people can be followers of Jesus: the rich, the poor, the powerful, the imprisoned, male, female, old, young… God is not confined by our rigid structures but delights in all who show His love.
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the boundaries I set around You and Your followers. Help me to see all people as Your children. Amen.
This article was written by Linda Bailey
Linda started theological studies in 1999 in Australia. After working for ten years in various church ministries, she now works as the breakfast producer at 89.9 LightFM - the Christian radio station in Melbourne, Australia. She writes blogs every day about passages she is currently reading in the Bible. Follow her on Google Plus +Linda Bailey or Facebook by clicking the like button on the right of this page.