Scripture: John 3:22-36
Key verse: (30) “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Reflection: Our passage for today is the Gospel of John’s scene of Jesus and John the Baptist’s interaction. Jesus came into John the Baptist’s turf and started baptizing as well and John the Baptist’s disciples didn’t take to kindly that people were following Jesus. It wasn’t just that people were following Jesus that John’s disciples didn’t like, but it was that people went from going to John and instead went to Jesus. And yet, John’s response was, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Selfless.
How are we not to feel rejected when people move on from us or stop paying us attention? Do you notice feelings of competition arise when others get attention that was once directed towards you? Being selfless is one thing when we get rewarded or attention for putting others first, or when we receive acknowledgment for our generosity. When I was growing up, the summer camp that I went to handed out the Barnabas award every year, going to the youth who showed the greatest qualities of servanthood like Paul’s companion Barnabas. It wasn’t until talking about this award with my dad a few years ago that I realized how odd it was to give an award for servanthood and selflessness. While the award kept a few kids busy all week trying to outdo each other holding the door or carrying water jugs, how do we live into selflessness when it is neither recognized or rewarded?
For John the Baptist, his selflessness was truly not about himself. John’s identity was tied to a greater vision, the vision of Jesus the Messiah and the coming Kingdom. John was faithfully able to let go of worldly possessions, lose followers, be thrown in prison, and even be executed because his identity was not in what he owned, who recognized him, or even his freedom. John’s identity was found in Jesus the Messiah, the one who takes away the sin of the world and leads us back into right relationship with God.
Throughout the day, consider what it means to firmly have your identity grounded in Christ. In what ways are you willing and able to decrease so that the glory and good news of Jesus might increase? This is a challenge, this is a lifelong call, but as John the Baptist says, when we hear the voice of the one calling us to selflessness, we rejoice greatly for our joy has been fulfilled.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, open our ears that we may hear your call on our lives. By your Spirit grant us the courage and strength to hold fast to you and hold loosely to all else, so that we and our desires may decrease and you and your Kingdom vision increase. Amen.
Author: John Magnuson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].