Our Radical Identity as a Gift to the World
“Who are you?” The Levites interrogated John the Baptist because he was unknown to them until then. John’s popularity was growing as people saw and experienced first-hand what he was doing and saying. After living a secluded life for thirty years, he suddenly emerged and began to preach and baptize people.
It was reasonable for the Levites to question who John was because he was performing a role they could have been assuming, to the extent they surmised that he could be the Christ, Elijah or a Prophet. John clarified he was not any of those identities, further rousing the perplexed curiosity of the religious Jews who replied, “If you are not anyone of these, then who are you? What can you say about yourself?” He boldly declared his true identity, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
John the Baptist knew who he was, was clear about who he was not, and did he try to fill in the shoes of personalities of his time to gain popularity. He was content to be only – but radically and completely – who he was, and lived out his calling to the fullest when the right time had come, when Jesus was setting out to launch his ministry. As important as his role was as Jesus’ precursor, John humbly acknowledged the greatness of the one whom he spoke about. “I am not even worthy to untie his sandals,” he said. John the Baptist was secure in his identity, an identity based on his calling in God’s Kingdom and in his relationship with Jesus. But as he lived out his true identity and calling, he did not receive a lot of “likes”. Jesus’ disciples did not acknowledge him, the religious people were not happy with him, and his actions stirred the ire of King Herod who imprisoned and later executed him.
I wonder how people would respond to John the Baptist if he lived in this age of social networking, where what people do or say quickly circulates around the globe. Would many “like” him for his radical way of life? And would he inspire many to follow his example? In our own uniqueness, those of us who follow Christ share with John a common deep calling to be the voice of Christ to people around us, pointing them to him who is the only true source of the hope, love and peace that all of humanity craves for. What do you think? Will we get a lot of “likes” if we choose to live our deepest calling as John did?
One of the greatest challenges and privileges for us in Samaritana is helping broken women find their true sense of identity in Christ, and experience profound and lasting healing as they walk the journey of love and forgiveness Jesus alone offers. However, with the mounting cases of trafficking and sexual exploitation in the Philippines and around the world, and the tiny number of workers in this particular issue, we often too feel like voices crying out in the wilderness. We look to the Lord of the Harvest to nudge and call and equip people who would dare say YES in their hearts in whatever way they seek to express this commitment to engage this issue, whether “liked” or not.