A man in a country where ethnic cleansing was starting decided to flee to a neighboring country. He changed his appearance and his clothes to look more acceptable to the neighboring country. He paid for documents that validated he had been born in the neighboring country and emigrated as a young child. He even found a family to say they knew his parents should he need them.
He studied the language of his intended country, studying common phrases and questions. He felt quite confident that his investment in time would pay off as he walked to the border. He hardly looked like himself, and he almost believed this could in fact be true, so why not? He knew all of his relatives would shun him if they knew the lies that he was telling, for they were proud of their heritage and country.
As he waited in line, he rehearsed the phrases he had practiced over and over. As he got closer he listened intently to the conversations between the guard and the person requesting access. All were citizens and had very little difficulty in being allowed entrance. This might be easy, he may have overpaid and over-prepared. The wig itched and the new shoes bothered him.
He walked to the guard and handed him the papers with a smile. The guard reviewed them and then asked him a few simple questions. The guard seemed satisfied with his answers, then asked him a few questions on his time in the country, and how old he was when his family left. He replied that he had been four years old, and had very little memory of it. The guard smiled and said “Perhaps you’ll remember this” and proceeded to hum a simple tune. He asked the man “What song am I humming?”
The man stammered a reply that he didn’t recall it and tried to think of a lie to cover it. The guard’s face hardened and was unmoved. He told the man this song was common in every home in the region, it was sung at every birthday and could not be easily forgotten. The guard had him searched. Several incriminating items and the wig were discovered. Sadly, he was handed over to his home country and imprisoned.
Moral of the story:
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
In Matthew 3:7 we see John the Baptist cruelly chastising a specific group of people coming to where he was baptizing. It seems he is being rather harsh and unfair on the surface. God doesn’t focus on the outward appearance like we do; rather there is an intense focus on our heart. The people John singled out looked good, they may even have said the right things, but they were not concerned about what John was preaching, which was repentance and preparation for the Lord.
Repentance is turning around, changing course and agreeing with God that you were wrong and you wronged Him. They didn’t want to repent, they wanted the act to be sufficient. I find myself allowing the actions and words to be enough, but I don’t want that to be what I am really about inside.