Over the last 20 years, I have had the joy of serving alongside pastors and teachers who are committed to Christ and His Word. I’ve entertained many in my home. I’ve vacationed with several. I’ve shared the extremely close quarters of mission trips with some. I have witnessed their words and actions behind closed doors of staff meetings. And I will be the first to admit they aren’t perfect. They are human and are exposed to the same temptations as every other person. Yet they have faithfully pursued righteousness. Yes, I have had wonderful mentors.
John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30
I have not witnessed my mentors struggle with this verse, but in the effort to be totally transparent with those of you who read this blog, I know that I could easily fall down the slippery slope of seeking greatness and value in all the wrong ways. I’m just telling it like it is.
It should be elementary. It seems obvious that Jesus must be known as greater than anyone who has and will ever live in this world. The uncreated Creator, Sustainer of life, Giver of every good and perfect gift, Teacher of wisdom, the One who fought temptation and won, the One who defeated death. And so much more. How could anyone possibly occupy His throne?
John the Baptist answered his disciples who were expressing jealousy because crowds were shifting their allegiance to Jesus. John remained faithful to minister to whoever God sent his way. He was not jealous of Jesus. He wasn’t competitive. He wasn’t insecure. He continued to point people away from his presence into the presence of Jesus.
“He must become greater; I must become less.”
For some, this can be the reason why they choose to reject Jesus. To live this verse implies taking backstage. Yet our culture teaches us from an early age to compete for the prize and enjoy the applause. It tells us to grab all the glory we can. It preaches that we are only valuable when we are successful in the eyes of the world.
I obeyed my culture’s commands at one time, so I can confidently say, “It’s arrogant. It’s prideful. And it’s ugly.”
For the devoted follower of Christ, this verse is freedom. Culture whispers lies that are easy to believe. Yet, John the Baptist lived counter culturally, declaring that he would not pretend to be someone who he was not. He said that he was confident in his calling. He knew to whom he belonged. He found complete joy in the One to whom He was committed. (John 3:27-29) This is freedom.
Freedom is found in being comfortable with whom God created us to be, not imitating others. Freedom is found in doing what we are created to do, not adding anything more in an effort to be found worthy. Freedom is found in rejoicing over the accomplishments of those who lead where you once led.
I’ve had opportunities to stand in front of groups, teaching and leading. And I confess that I am not as noble as John the Baptist…so my diligent prayer has been “Jesus, I ask that in all I do and say, You become greater and I become less.” It’s also underlined in my Bible. It’s written on a post-it note on my computer. And I’m thinking of writing it on a wall in my closet.
I want Jesus to be known and loved!
Thoughts to ponder:
Do I believe that God is greater? Or am I sitting on my own throne, trying to rule over circumstances life brings my way? If so, how is that working?
Am I seeking the admiration of others? Or am I living so others can see God’s presence?
Do I serve for His renown?