26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan–the one you testified about–well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” 27 To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less. (John 3:26-30 NIV)
John’s buddies were growing concerned. The talk around town was shifting from John the Baptist to the new guy who had just come on the scene…Jesus. I guess the sobering reality of the “popularity shift” is nothing new in our day. A new girl, let me rephrase that, a BEAUTIFUL new girl moves into town and suddenly all of the boys at the local high school are talking about her, mesmerized by her, and want to ask her out. The girls who were use to getting all of the attention suddenly fade into the background and begin to seethe with jealousy. A new hire shows up in the office. He’s bright, personable, is at work before everyone, and is still hammering away at his “to do” list as everyone else walks out the door. He’s got “Promotion” written all over him. Those who work in his same position begin to feel threatened and the chatter begins. The “popularity shift” causes some to get nervous, others to get jealous, and still others to conspire together as to how they can change what’s taking place.
John wanted to set the record straight. He was only “a voice crying out in the wilderness” (John 1:23), the one who was not worthy to even untie the sandals of Jesus (John 1:27), and a best man to the Bridegroom (John 3:29). John knew it was God’s will for his ministry to decrease in popularity while at the same time Jesus’ ministry increased. He would have it no other way.
In the years that I’ve been walking with Jesus I’ve noticed a direct correlation between my growth and my need to be “successful” or “popular.” The more I grow in my understanding of who Jesus is and His purpose for my life the less I am enamored by popularity, plaudits, and applause. I am called to serve for an audience of One. When my growth becomes stunted and I become lax in my passion to know Him more and more, my need to receive the appreciation and approval of people increases. I’ve also come to learn that this is a dead end road. Those who love you and appreciate you one day are prone to shout, “Crucify him,” the next day. And yet there remains the pull of popularity. Lord, draw me close so that the need for approval will not draw me in.
My prayer today, Lord, is that You would increase in every way in my life and that I would be glory in Your glory alone.