In Luke 3, John the Baptizer’s gospel is hard, stern, and in-your-face. He preaches a radical lifestyle of self-sacrifice, compassion, and justice (vv. 10-14). He even goes so far to say that the Christ has an axe ready to cut down the unfruitful tree and winnowing fork ready to burn the worthless chaff (vv. 9, 17).
Luke didn’t see this latter part as unloving, unproductive, or un-Christian. How did he see it? He wrote, “So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people” (v. 18).
This is so unlike the good news we hear in Christianity today. The “good news” is supposed to be soft, accommodating, and hippie-like. C.S. Lewis thought otherwise about how we are to love people. He said, “Love is something more splendid and stern than mere kindness.” May we Christians be splendid and stern, like John, as we proclaim this good news to a dying and needy world.