Wednesday, March 18, 2009

John 3 -- Increase and Decrease

Wow, what at chapter. John 3 is packed full of really great stuff. The challenge comes in reading all of it, and deciding what to write about. Of all that material, I am always amazed at John the Baptizer's response to the person baiting him about Jesus doing baptisms.

You can almost hear, at least I can almost hear this person, a Jew as identified by the text, as he questions John. My Western market driven mind hears, "He is pushing into your market share". In the context of John and Jesus, there is an element of shame and honor. It was an honor for John to baptize Jesus, now the man interacting with John is trying to show Jesus as shaming John. The response form John, "I must decrease and He must increase." John had been sent for one purpose and one purpose alone, to prepare the way of Jesus.

It is obvious the man questioning John did not see that. John quickly sets him straight. All focus is shifted from John's work to the work of Jesus. Other than the accounts of his imprisonment, and subsequent beheading, John is not heard from much again. It was more than just a saying, it was how John lives, Jesus must increase, and I must decrease. In other words, my work is done, I have completed what I have been sent to do.

I wonder how often we get the equation wrong. The drive to increase is strong. Individuals look for ways to increase their power, control, wealth and just about anything we can measure. Churches look to have more people in attendance, bigger budgets, more buildings, etc.... Where is Jesus in all this. We in the 21st century have been classically trained to push for our increase. The real need is to push past our classic training and realize, we must decrease, and Jesus must increase, in our lives and in our churches.

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