Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Increase or Decrease?

In the Gospel of John, chapter three, we have the account of John the Baptizer's disciples coming to him and informing him that many of the people who John had baptized were now following Jesus. It seems from the passage that there was a bit of jealousy among John's followers.

John's response was that any position a person had was given to that person by God. He stated that he had already told them that he was not the Messiah,  but was sent to be a messenger for the Messiah. He went on to say that he was happy to see Jesus being made much of, just like the best man at a wedding receives his joy from the happiness of the bridegroom. John then made a statement that can be instructive for us as we seek to follow Jesus. He said, "He must increase. I must decrease."

That statement goes against everything we have been taught by the culture around us. Even Christianity has succumbed to the thinking that it is all about us. The recent statement by a mega-church preacher is simply a clear admission of what is the basis for much of the teaching that goes out in evangelical churches and over the airwaves. Of course, those churches are full and those preachers have a huge following because we like to hear that we are at the center, that God's purpose is to make us happy, that the most important thing is becoming a better person.  We make celebrities of those who tell us these things and put them on a pedestal.

When John was preaching at the Jordan River, his message was not one of happiness, prosperity, and becoming a better you. It was a message to the people to prepare them for the arrival of the King. John told the people that they needed to change their minds about the way to live and follow this Messiah. Everything was now to be oriented around the King. This message is still for us today.

The gospel is not accept Jesus as personal Savior so you can escape earth in a rapture and stay out of hell. It is not come to Jesus so he can give you all your desires. The message is that Jesus is the Messiah, the promised King, who has inaugurated his kingdom and who will one day restore all things. Follow this King. Give up your desires, your petty things of this world, and live a new life that puts the King up front. The King calls us to die, and in that death find the full life that he promises.

It is in the upside down nature of the Kingdom that the way to fulfillment and wholeness is in abandoning our lives and grasping onto the life of the one who is the Life. May John's attitude be ours as well.

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