No there are not open tryouts coming up for a new John the Baptist. Not looking for someone to play the role in a drama presentation either.
But are you willing to assume a similar position in relation to Christ?
That role is epitomized by this phrase spoken from John’s own tongue, “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30) John said this in a time when the great crowds following him were beginning to leave and follow Jesus. He could have been jealous, could have been envious. After all, he had sacrificed and given up so much to follow God and preach the message of repentance. Here he was wearing clothes made out of camel hair with a simple belt about his waist. He was eating locusts and wild honey, food he could gather. He was a talented man, an educated, dedicated, hardworking man. Surely he deserved better. And now, now that he is gaining some popularity along comes someone else and the crowds begin to follow him.
John’s reaction was not one of envy or anger, not one of jealousy. He didn’t start trying new things to bring the crowd back. In this conversation with his disciples they didn’t start discussing church growth strategies to get the crowd back. There was no, “we need to get some better music, you know, a praise band and some lights and stuff.” No mention of starting a child’s ministry with colorful paint on the walls and fun, child-centric activities or “maybe we should start wearing clothes that people relate to and start talking about the issues facing their lives like, ‘handling difficult people at your job’, ‘building strong relationships in a busy schedule’.” They didn’t start talking negatively about this new guy on the block who was ‘stealing’ their crowd.
Instead, John’s response was exactly the attitude of a disciple of Christ. In that one simple sentence, “He must become greater; I must become less”, John expresses precisely what we must believe as followers of Christ. In order to follow Jesus we must take up our cross daily and deny ourselves. Both in our minds and in how our life is lived out we must literally become less and Jesus become more. In our thinking we must think less of ourselves and more of Him. Our lives must reflect the same so that when they live with us they see Jesus greater than they see us.
Some years ago I was at a point in my life where God drove me to my knees in prayer. I had had enough of ‘me’. The ‘me’ was not the answer. God led me in prayer at the moment to ask Him to kill the ‘me’, destroy the ‘me’. During that prayer God asked me, “if you would never get any credit for anything you do, even if someone else gets the credit for something you do, would you still do it?” I had always enjoyed when people said, “great message Pastor”, “man that message was just for me” or “I love hearing you preach”. I always liked being thanked for visiting someone or spending time counselling someone. It felt great to be told, “you know, I am Christian today because of your witness.” Certainly it seemed reasonable. I had worked hard preaching, visiting, counselling and witnessing. But God was now saying would you do it without any of that recognition? Would you do it without any praise or thanks? Would you do it if someone else got the praise and recognition? Would you do it anonymously, if no one even remembered your name? Will you let me become greater and you become less in your life? That was hard for me but I wanted to be like John. I wanted to be all-in for Christ and let it all be about Him instead of me.
Through that prayer I was able to surrender to God to become anonymous in His kingdom whenever he chooses, to do what I do only for Him and not for me in any way. The Holy Spirit continues to work in my life to kill that ego and replace it with Christ and Him alone.
Are you willing to be John the Baptist? Are you willing to decrease that He may increase? John realized who he was and who Jesus was. He realized who he was in relation to Jesus. He realized what he was created for, for the glory of God. John surrendered to his role and found real fulfillment and joy. John placed Jesus ahead of even his own life. Are you willing to be John the Baptist?