Summary: Surrender to the Lordship of Christ brings fulfillment in life.
"Becoming Less Prominent"
In John 3 we find John the Baptizer responding to his disciples. They have brought word that Jesus was baptizing people left and right. (In truth Jesus only baptized the twelve. 4:2 Perhaps John’s men saw the baptisms and thought Jesus to be John’s competition.)
John did not respond with a jealous note. Nor did his response reveal that he was afraid of losing his position and his popularity with the people. There is no apparent fear of losing converts. In fact, John said, "He must gain more and I must gain less."
"He must increase but I must decrease." (KJV)
"He must become more prominent but I must become less so." (TAB)
"He must become greater; but I must become less." (NIV)
The principle of John’s statement goes far beyond this baptism scene. It must carry over into every part of our lives. This is the true Christian character.
Who Said It
It is important to see who made this statement; who said it. What kind of person was John the Baptizer? What about his character and integrity? It’s easy to believe others need this reminder, but what about us?
He leaped for joy in his mother’s womb. (Lk. 1:44)
He was filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb - from birth. (Lk. 1:15)
He was considered the great prophet to "prepare the way of the Lord." (Mk. 1:3)
Jesus said of him, "Among them that are born among women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist." (Mt. 11:11)
And yet even he realized his need for humility, his need to decrease in prominence as Jesus increased in prominence. Shouldn’t we also see our need? . . .
John the Baptizer serves as our example in this instance. What he said becomes a pattern for us.
Often Christians have problems here. This is frequently a blind spot for believers. bringing this kind of mentality and belief into all areas of our thoughts motives and actions is to die to self. It is the issue of Lordship and servanthood.
Think of how many church problems are caused by our failure to surrender to this one point of Christian teaching. Of all the various problems in church, when all the excuses are removed, there is just one solution - "He must increase, but I must decrease."
Too often we are willing to compromise: "Okay, exalt Christ, but don’t take me out of the spotlight!" It is great if Jesus becomes more prominent, but don’t make me lose prominence.
Too often Christians are more self-centered instead of Christ-centered. We always think of how things will affect us and not how they will affect Christ.
Listen to our prayers. They’re about us. I’m not against most of what we pray for, jobs, health, etc., or even how often we pray for these things. It is what we leave out that is wrong.
Read the prayers of the New Testament. They focus on the Lord and what He has done as much as on our problems.
Think about our songs. They’re about us.
Too often Christians behave, not like the bottom line is what the Bible says, or what Jesus would do, rather what they want. . . how they feel. "Missionary dating" is one example. Tithing is another. Fasting. Praying. Witnessing. Church attendance. . . I could go on. For John there was no compromise on the Lordship and supremacy of Christ.
Requirement For All Christians
Just reading through the New Testament you will constantly run into the idea that our loss is His gain. John was expressing what would become precedent for following Jesus. No Christian is exempt from reduction of self and expansion of Christ. Trace this teaching through the Bible and see for yourself how vital it is for us as believers.
Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Mk. 8:34)
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Mt. 10:39)
Paul says, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. (Ph.3:7)
We are . . . to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, . . . (Rom. 8:29)
John said, "When Christ appears we will be more like ourselves, or each other"?? No, . . . we shall be like him . . . (1 Jn. 3:2)
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Ph. 1:21)