“He must increase, I must decrease.”
This verse, so compact yet so powerful if truly taken to heart. Christ must increase. His name. His life. His glory. I, _____________, must decrease. My name. My life. My glory.
Now if we are being completely candid my heart doesn’t necessarily believe this statement, at least not all the time. If we are being honest, there is this underlying sense that in reality I must increase so that Christ can increase. The more success I achieve, the bigger the platform to speak from. The more followers I have, the more people I can point back to Him. Bigger, better, greater. Am I the only one with this thought? It’s really not that different, and the end goal is essentially the same, that Christ would increase. Isn’t that how the world works these days? If only my life and my name grew then I would be able to proclaim His name with greater scope and greater impact on the world around me. But that’s not what is called of us in the Bible. Ever.
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26
And He said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” – Luke 9:23
“Indeed, I count everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered a loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” – Philippians 3:8
John answered and said, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven… He must increase, I must decrease.” – John 3:27, 30
Even Christ Himself is not worrying about making sure He is building a platform to speak from; no, instead He has His heart set upon doing the work His Father laid out for Him. There are times when Jesus spoke boldly and to great numbers (see Matthew 4:23-25, John 7:37-38), but the goal was never the platform. There are even times we witness His retreat from it (see John 6:15, Matthew 8:4, and John 5:13-14). He did His daily work, and as He went, He preached. Thousands followed. Hundreds were healed. Some were offended. Many deserted. Religious leaders persecuted. Some decided the cost was too great. Others gave up their lives. There was no need for Him to try and build a platform because the work His Father gave Him to do was so radical and unexplainable it did that for itself.
It’s hard, really hard, in this culture embedded with success driven identities, social media ministries, and the ability to build truly global platforms and networks, to make the distinction between the way the Lord works and the way the world works. The world says you need to increase yourself to increase your message. Literally, I just ran across an article titled “Why you need a platform to succeed” and within the text the statement was made “Without a platform – something that enables you to get seen and heard – you don’t have a chance.”
I fear that we have begun to take this same stance about showing people Jesus.
The Lord works so opposite of how we work. The Lord doesn’t say construct for yourself a platform, rather “a person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven”… Given him. Not built by him. Given him. Not created by him. Given him. You know why? Because it brings Him glory! It brings Him glory when He moves in ways that don’t make any logical sense. It brings Him glory when He leads us to places that we could never lead ourselves. It brings Him glory when the only explanation we can give for something is: God! So my encouragement to you (and myself) today is to seek first His kingdom; not seek a platform in which we can speak truth from – that will come on its own. But seek His kingdom right now with your neighbors, your teammates, your co-workers, your family. Pray that as you love on and speak truth to the people in your life they would not walk away thinking how great you are, but how great Jesus is. Allow yourself to decrease. Allow His influence and work to increase. And as the urge comes to build your own platform (and it will), remember that the Creator always builds better than the creation.