Imagine Standing Aside

You Are Beloved“The groom is the one who is getting married. The friend of the groom stands close by and, when he hears him, is overjoyed at the groom’s voice.  Therefore, my joy is now complete.  He must increase and I must decrease.”  (John 3:29-30)

In his final witness, John the Baptist once again points away from himself and directly toward Jesus as the “bridegroom,” the Messiah.  I look around our world today and I wonder if many people have forgotten who they are supposed to be pointing other people toward.

The culture in which we live is not very different from the various cultures/societies that have gone before us.  Certainly the times are different; the technologies are different; the people are different.  However, the basic factor that gives us commonality – our humanity – is not different from generation to generation.  We often talk about how our problems are so much more complicated than in past years; things were so much simpler “back then”; if we could just go back to the way we used to do things…; we seem to frequently look back for answers and look to ourselves for solutions.

This is where our faith must begin to inform our entire life; this is where we must understand what it means to really let God be in charge of everything.  Notice that John says, in order for God to increase in our life we must decrease.  We need to stand aside and let God take the leading role.  Like the bridegroom’s friend, the spotlight is not on us, it is on the Bridegroom.

I think that many times we forget where the spotlight is supposed to be shining.  We get so caught up in being busy doing the church’s work that we forget why we are doing the work in the first place – to point people toward Jesus.  We are pleased with the things we are able to accomplish and fail to realize who made our accomplishments possible – Jesus.  When we look back through history, all the way to biblical times, we realize that this has always been the great sin and failing of humankind – forgetting who is really in charge…God.

When we forget what life is about; when we forget why we are here in the first place, we begin to focus on what we want for ourselves, rather than on what God wants for everyone.  We make decisions without thinking about the effects our decisions might have on the rest of God’s people.  We get tired of doing something and stop without realizing that others are being blessed by it.  We stop pointing toward Jesus and instead point at ourselves.  “He must increase and I must decrease.”

How often have you thought that you had the right answer only to realize that you actually missed the point of the question?  When we look back to find all our answers, we ignore the future God has in mind.  We seldom have the wisdom to truly understand God’s plan.  As human beings we will have success and failure.  Some things will work for us while others will not.  God can use both our success and our failure to make something that will work into God’s plan for our lives.  Even our successes may not have been what God had in mind, but God can use those things to lead us.  Sometimes God needs to let us fail so that we can find our way to God’s plan for our success.  That is the great challenge of letting God be in charge…we must be prepared to work within the circumstances in which we find ourselves and allow God to lead us through both the bad and the good; the desired and the inconvenient.

John the Baptist was a voice crying out, “Make a way in the wilderness for Our Lord.”  He was not the Christ, he simply pointed to Jesus.  Neither are we the focus of faith or the one to be praised; we are simply here to point others toward the One God who created us all and who desires that all should be reconciled and spend eternity in God’s presence.  To do this we must often put our personal feelings aside and let Jesus shine past us so that others might see.  We must stop thinking that we personally have all the right answers and that everyone would be better off if they would simply listen to us.  We have to let go of the idea that we are in charge.

Imagine standing aside,
Pastor Don