The dictionary defines wilderness as an uncultivated and inhospitable region. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the world we live in as a wilderness in regards to Christian thought and in regards to a disciplined Christian way of life. Much of our modern culture is opposed to many of the teachings found in the Bible. There seems to be an overall culture of promiscuity and a willingness to bend the rules of morality whenever it becomes inconvenient. If we were to once again ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” we have to reach the conclusion there are many things in our world today that Jesus would absolutely not do.
As a result, the Christian voice becomes like one calling in the wilderness to repent.
“The word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all people will see God’s salvation.” Luke 3:2-6 (NIV)
We have an obligation as believers to share the good news and guide those who are lost, to the way of the Lord. This is not a matter of calling out every objectionable cultural practice. This is a matter of guidance. We need to point the way toward a more spiritually profitable way of life by making those paths as enticing as the roads leading them off in the wrong direction.
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)
As believers, we are following in the footsteps of Jesus and our goal should be to get others to fall in behind us as we lead by example. When we let the joy of our spirit shine in such a way that others are curious as to how we achieve such a demeanor, we establish a desirable path toward knowing Jesus.
“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” 1 Peter 5:1-4 (NIV)
The role of guide to the lost in the wilderness does not fall solely on the shoulders of the more mature believer. We all need to be models of what it means to be faithful and set an example for others to follow. We need to demonstrate the love of God by serving unbelievers in the same manner we serve our Christian brothers and sisters. When we honestly and willingly serve everyone, the path toward Jesus becomes an obvious choice. This is especially true for younger believers who interact with a more vulnerable and impressionable community of friends.
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)
All followers of Jesus Christ are wilderness guides. We lead by example. We are always ready to share the details of our faith. It should be our goal to shine a light into the darkness to expose the corruption that is leading others astray, while at the same time we offer clear direction toward a better way. This is not a simple task. We need to work together to come up with the best practices for our wilderness guide duties. With some creative thought and a willingness to go the extra mile, we can easily overcome this world and establish a clear path to the saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
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