It was great to welcome new staff to the Belfrey staff team last Tuesday. We have eleven on our new Forge leadership training scheme, plus some great people giving significant volunteering time to work with us over the next year. It’s looking like a top team!

We did lots of things to get to know each better, from telling interesting stories about ourselves to learning about personality types. One thing we did was say which bible character we appreciate. Mine was John the Baptist.

We read about John in Luke chapter 3. We’re told how people came out to hear him, as he spoke God’s word in the wilderness. What did he talk about?

1 Forgiveness
John told of a God who gives a fresh start. A God of new hope. A God who wants to wash clean and make new. That’s why John called people to get baptised – to do a simple act that physically represents a spiritual change. John knew that God was full of love and forgiveness. Most of us are painfully aware of our many mistakes and failures in life. It’s great to know that we have a God who does not hold our sins against us.

2 Fruitfulness
John’s words were not always sweet or gentle. He had some tough things to say, especially to the selfish, greedy and power-hungry. He reminded them that God was looking for fruit in their lives. Good fruit. In our ultra-tolerant world where people are wary of saying anything is right or wrong, John is prepared to stick his neck out and call people to live caringly and generously.

3 Future
John had a great following. He could have used his growing power and influence to advance his position. But instead he told people to look to the future and look to someone else – to one more powerful and more worthy. To Jesus. He knew that his job was to prepare the way for the great one – Jesus Christ. And we can learn from his humility – so that in the end, eyes are turned away from us and onto Christ. Ultimately that was John’s role. And ours too.

I don’t share the dietary habits of John (not being a big fan of locusts), or his clothes-sense (I prefer cotton brief to camel’s hair…) but I identify with his message. It was a great message, pointing to the one who will baptise/immerse us not just in water but in ‘the Holy Spirit and fire’ (3:16). That’s someone really worth knowing and following!

What about you? Which bible character would you chose?