Someone asked me once if there were any Scriptures where a relationship between a mother and daughter was pivotal. The one that came immediately to mind was in the tragic story of John the Baptist and his execution (Mark 6:17-29). This was hardly something for emulation. Living in an age where so many teenage girls crave things like digital music, computers, shoes, cars, clothes, and jewelry — this figure of Herodius’ daughter is a peculiar one — at her mother’s urging, she wants the head of John the Baptist. I suppose times do change, if just the externals, but this seems a bit over the top to say the least.
I spoke about how the Lord gave his disciples a long list of sins to avoid. He challenged them not to be hypocrites but to be a genuine people in love with the Lord. I mentioned that such lists, if preached upon, can make us angry, the reason being that most of us do not like to be reminded of our sinfulness and weakness. We even try to keep it from ourselves. Herodias was like this, too. John the Baptist would not allow them to forget or to ignore the great sin with which she and Herod had become involved. She soon discovered that the only way to silence him was to have his head on a platter, to force her lover to kill him.
We need to be, not like Herodias, but like John the Baptist. He fully realized that we were all sinners, needing to admit this reality to ourselves and to repent. Indeed, the baptism he offered in the desert was one of repentance and conversion. We should face up to what we do and to who we are, both to the beautiful and to the ugly. If we are not honest to ourselves, how can we dare face ourselves, our neighbor, and our God with any semblance of integrity?
Sometimes to be a prophetic witness like John the Baptist will require hardship for us as well. It might mean that we will also have to die. If not physically, we may have to endure the little dyings that come when we challenge others to a more moral life and one which places God in a central position.
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