John the Baptist: A Model Evangelist
“John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey” John the Baptist stands out as the best pre-Christ evangelist. Unlike the modern day evangelists he lived a very simple life as we read from the Bible (Matthew 3:4). People traveled from far to listen to him and to be baptized. As we read in the Bible, people from Jerusalem, all over Judea, and from the whole region of Jordan came to him, confessing their sins and received baptism. He was indeed an influential person but he never asked them any donation or anything for himself to live a better life. He was very happy with his life. He never performed any miracles or never prayed for miracles to happen in anyone’s life.
Similarly, he never used any attractive words to gather a large crowd to show the world that how powerful his ministry was or to extract anything from the people in the name of God or to direct the people to follow a holiest group or to worship God in a holiest way. He never had a church or a group to boast about. All he cared about was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2). His message was the same for all whether one was an ordinary person, tax collector, soldier, rich or poor which is “Share with poor people and do not cheat anyone for money. Be happy with what you have” and again as we read in the Bible “What should we do then?” the crowd asked. John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay" (Luke 3:10-14).
It is this kind of repentance John was talking to the people of his time. In this world we don’t hear this kind of teachings very often as God is projected to be the giver of luxurious life and wealth, no matter whether one cheats others to acquire more wealth. No one likes to talk about “To be content with what you have in life or to be content with your pay”. All the modern day evangelists and church groups are finding modern ways to attract people to their church or group and not for God. One of the ways is the promise of prayer that focuses only on wealth: “We pray for your financial blessing or luxurious life or to have miracles in your life”. And not calling them to a life of repentance.
John the Baptist was clothed in camel’s hair. I am not sure whether he had another set of clothes with him. He ate locusts and honey. As he lived in the desert I am sure he did not have a luxurious house to sleep in. A great man turning large number of people towards God lived with very basic necessities of life. People who came to him had only admiration for him. Even Jesus Christ himself testified about John "I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John” (Luke 7:28).
Another great quality of John the Baptist was his humility. When the Jewish leaders sent people to ask him who he was he openly said “I am not Messiah”. If John wished he could have claimed his greatness. John knew that his mission was to prepare the way for Jesus. Again John said, “He must increase and I must decrease.” Do we hear such words from a religious person or a religious group today? Our sole interest is to boast about the head of our church or groups and finding ways to increase the count. For us our strength lies in our headcount but for John the Baptist it was not about numbers but rather leading people to a holy life.
The world has seen many evangelists but very few lived a simple life as John did. And very few care about the repentance of people as more are concerned about directing them to their own church or groups or to their own ideologies. Oh God, we pray that all the modern day evangelists live and work like John the Baptist.