You love the Lord. You are on fire and want everyone else to know Him like you do. You hear the call and you go. You write that worship song, you raise your hand to volunteer with the kids, you lead that small group, you write that Bible study, you start that blog. And things are going well. People come; people respond. You are in your element. Your role suits you.
But then something or someone enters the scene and things begin to change. Attention is shifted. Audiences decrease. You wonder what happened. You clearly heard God call you to this. Why doesn’t it seem to be successful anymore? You question your role.
The disciples of John the Baptist are going through this same identity crisis. They love the Lord. They have been part of John’s ministry for some time now…the first great prophet after 400 years of silence. They have a role on this team and lives are being changed. People are coming from all over, repenting, and being baptized.
But then Jesus comes. It is joyful at first as they hear their beloved teacher announce that Jesus is the Messiah they have been waiting on. They witness the holy spirit descending on Him and the voice of God speak as Jesus is baptized by John. They are part of something big and beautiful.
Until the crowds start to decrease. The attention disappears. People are flocking to His ministry and leaving theirs. And they can see it all across the Jordan River.
“They came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.’” (John 3:26)
They still love the Lord; they are still all in. But somewhere along the way, they have tangled up their role with the true reward. John, their teacher, tries to re-shift their focus upward…
“A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:27-30)
John is so attuned to how his role fits into the big picture. His focus is on God’s plans, not his. His role was to point to the One, and now the One has come. Roles shift.
The Jewish religious leaders had a role as well. They loved the law, sought to follow the law: teach the law. But somewhere along the way, their role became their god. And it can happen to us too is we aren’t careful.
Jon Bloom says, “We must remember that our role is not our reward. Jesus is our reward. Roles will begin and they will end. And the only way for us to end well is if in our heart Jesus has increased and we have decreased.”
God’s word is such a gift and opportunity for self-evaluation. Have I forgotten the true reward? Have my roles become the reward I am seeking instead of Jesus? Am I worshiping my role over my God? Is my goal always to point to Him and glorify Him?
He must increase; I must decrease.
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