An almost unknown state of mind
In this season of Christmas, I believe that an essential attitude or mindset is to be self-forgetful – an attitude almost unknown in our generation. Why this mindset? Because attention – like a commodity – is flying off the shelves. There are innumerable parties, gifts, or events. You can get overlooked in a nanosecond. (And if you’re shopping for someone else, and doing it well, you ought not to be thinking about yourself.)
In the 3rd chapter of John’s Gospel there’s a story of John is getting overshadowed. John the Baptist learns that Jesus is getting all of John’s former followers. Someone else is rising in the poll #’s while John’ #’s are plunging.
There is freedom in knowing your calling. Do you have and know what is essential? Because true freedom is to have what is necessary and know what can be left aside. John was secure enough in his relationship with Jesus to have perspective on his own worth and to not be a slave to his reputation (and in this particular case, his reputation being surpassed).
John’s own friends sound alarmed, “Everyone is going to Jesus!” And yet John knew that he had received from God all of the talent, courage, character, attention and followers that he had up until that time. And that it was only for that time, because John was a “forerunner” or as he said in this story, a friend of the bridegroom. Significantly John knew that Jesus was the center of attention, not him. John knew that “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Being lost is essentially not knowing where you are. And I would add, being lost is essentially not knowing what to keep. Said in a negative way, how enslaved are you to your reputation? Or are you free enough in Christ to rejoice to see true beauty and excellence in someone else getting the spotlight?
Orid positively, the mark of maturity and wisdom is length of God’s Word withstands scrutiny and gives life to the dead. Jesus is supreme. God’s testimony is not a water-tight argument, but a water-tight Person. John the Baptist recognized that Jesus is from above – He is and has the only authoritative perspective. And John saw that Jesus gives life with power. In v. 34, John said, “He whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.”
I I can only live by the perspective I’ve known – whether I got that perspective from my family, my friends, from pop culture or social media – until I run into another perspective that can explain things better. THEN I can start to compare and contrast and maybe, just maybe, rethink and trade. I can ditch my old perspective because of the new one. And Jesus offers the best perspective ever!
So John could say it and mean it: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Things to pray for:
– One prayer only: Ask the Lord to help you to pray John’s heart belief – ask the Lord to work that Jesus would increase in your life and that you would decrease.