Zero Spirituality

Zero:  Diminishing 

He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

John 3:30, NLT

 

Before our Lord appeared, John the Baptist had incredible popularity.  Thousands and thousands came to him as he preached in the wilderness of Judea.  However when Jesus initiated His own ministry, people left in droves to follow Him.  Imagine having a wildly successful thing going, and the next day having it fizzle.

I have discovered that it is one thing to be the center of attention, and quite another to be a minor player.  John was the MVP, but overnight he was sent to the farm team (baseball metaphor).  Men and women reach for center stage, to be in the limelight.  But very few can move in the other direction gracefully.

A conductor was asked what the hardest instrument to play.  The interviewer expected that it would be a saxophone or trombone or some other.  The conductor just smiled,  and said, “The hardest is the second violin”.

How great victory was that which Jonathan must have gained over himself, when he rejoiced to see David raised above him! He discerned the mind of God in David, and had so learned to delight in God, that he did not see in David one who was to outshine him, but another faithful man raised up for God and Israel.”    –Robert C. Chapman
 
Jonathan understood, first who David really was.  He had a sense of who David was, his destiny and giftings.  Second, he knew himself in the light of who David really was.  He turned his back decisively on being made king.  Ambition was not in his vocabulary.  He could rejoice in David; you see Jonathan was a free man.
 
The challenge of the day in our Churches is not leadership.  That is something relatively easy to fix.  But the real issue is servanthood; of being a great follower.  Thomas a Kempis counseled,
 
“Be desirous, my son, to do the will of another rather than thine own.”
  
That is an interesting place to find yourself.  But that is the need of the moment.  He must increase, become greater, and I must decrease, become lesser.  There can be no room for personal aggrandizement.  We need people to play second fiddle.
 

Photo: How We Learn to Love

There are times when we are driven to a most desperate place.  We can go no lower.  Jesus meets us, He does not forsake us.  He stands up and intercedes for our souls.  He bends over to pick us up, speaking wonderful things to our confused and misguided hearts.  He loves us, and the purpose of our trials teach us that critical truth.  We learn it in no other way.

When You Lose [Faith]

…”calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” Luke 7:19

 

Here we have John the Baptist locked away in Herod’s prison.  We read of his wavering, but that shouldn’t alarm us.  There has always been difficulties for those who follow without diluting their love for Jesus.  It’s very likely that John had preconceptions about Jesus’ ministry.  But that certainly doesn’t mean he was apostate or backslidden.  He still believed, as he looked out through the bars.

We walk in a greater light and have surer promises that John did.  And in that light we still have our difficult moments.  We can falter and shake and doubt.  And John only had a 100th of understanding that we have.  Often we are amazed by another’s confusion and struggles, it is so clear to us that they are falling short.  It is frustrating.  Moses once went ballistic, beat his rod on a rock and had some choice words.  His anger spilled all over him and made a mess.  We read of his provocation, and miss our own faults, sins and weaknesses. 

We need to understand the depth of our own depravity.  There are those who have proceeded us, who have had their moments of despondency and doubt.  We see them, as it were, from a distance and criticize and challenge what we see.  Noah’s drunkenness and Lot’s vacillation.  The flakiness of Samson, Peter’s denial and Mark’s timidity, and much more.

Today, let us resolve to be gentle with each other. “For we all stumble in many ways”, James 3:2.