Rev. Dr. Michael Sykes facilitated discussion with 9 clergy guests at our July 8, 2016, pastors forum at United Missionary Baptist Church, taking a fresh look at the mission of John the Baptist and at recognizing our own ministry.
Dr. Sykes shared that rather that make our own assumptions, we should stick to the scriptures. As we proceeded through the presentation, the participants could understand the possibility that John did not fulfill his mission of preparing the way of the Lord. Rev. Sykes pointed out in the scriptures (Malachi 4:5-6 and Luke 1:17), what John’s mission was. Jesus’ own words clarify that John had not fulfilled his mission. (Matt.11:11) “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
Dr. Sykes explained that John’s father, Zachariah, a High Priest, had wealth, power, and authority. He knew the law and was therefore well respected by the Jewish people. If John had said that Jesus was the true Messiah and relinquished his ministry to follow Jesus, the Jewish people would have accepted Jesus. Zachariah’s position and authority gave John’s word credibility.
Then Bishop Sykes used a contemporary example: “If I said that Father Moon is anointed by God, would you believe me? However, if T.D. Jakes proclaimed that Father Moon is anointed by God, everyone would believe it.” The issue is credibility.
He went on to say that it is very important to recognize our role and ministry. God calls people to different aspects of ministry. He calls some to help drug addicts, others to deal with the poor…yet others to evangelize or preach. “If God has not called to you to do that ministry, it will become dysfunctional. It won’t flourish. There are pastors who pastor but God did not call them to be pastors. They make good evangelist but not good pastors. There are also a lot of evangelists who make good pastors but not good evangelists.”
Rev. Sykes concluded by stating that John’s ministry was not to condemn Herod’s adulterous relationship. Even though he was right in preaching against sin, that was not the ministry for which God called him. His true ministry was to prepare the way of the Lord (Luke 1:76-79).
Contributed by: Rev. Kathaleen Sato/ NJ ACLC