Less Is More
John the Baptizer understands the principle that less is more.
In a discussion about purification between John’s disciples and a Jew, John is asked what he thinks about Jesus – the One John baptized – baptizing others.
It’s difficult to read this story (John 3:25-30) without observing the potential of a turf war. It’s evident that there is a fear of loss, resentment, and jealousy. John’s disciples are more concerned about losing disciples rather than pointing people to Jesus.
It’s easy for us to observe such traits in others while failing to recognize the symptoms in our own life. Turf protection is not only a problem for John’s disciples; it can be our issue as well.
John’s followers long for life to return to what it had been: Large crowds following John in the wilderness just to hear him teach. However, the tide has changed, and – from the disciples’ perspective – John’s ministry seems to be eclipsed by Jesus.
Sometimes it’s hard to let go of what we have labored so hard to build!
John understands that God is sovereign. He replies to his disciples: “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven” (vs. 27). John gets it. He’s not the Messiah (John 1:20). His purpose is to point others to Jesus – the Living Word of God. And, John find’s great joy in Jesus’ success!
Using an illustration familiar with Near Eastern weddings, he reminds his disciples (and us) that as the friend of the bridegroom, the assistant is the one who makes the preliminary arrangements for the ceremony. The assistant’s joy is complete when he hears the bridegroom coming for the bride.
Two things seem pertinent for us.
First, the role we serve is to point others to Jesus. It is not to attract people to our ministry, our talent, skills or abilities. We are Christ’s servants, desiring to direct attention to Him. “Our utmost for His highest” requires us to decrease so that He will increase. Less is More!
Second, we must always guard ourselves against the temptation of turf protection. With the creation and expansion of ministry outreaches, we must guard against the enemies tactics of resentment, fear, and jealousy.
There will be times when resources need to be directed to a particular outreach, operational adjustments may be necessary, and when we will need to be pliable. We must decrease so that Christ will increase! Less is More!
May each of us bear the qualities of John who celebrates the success of Jesus. May we rejoice and encourage the servant ministry of each other, as we continue to point others to Jesus by serving the Word in proclamation and action.