Friday, September 08, 2017

The Vision (9/8/17): He must increase

Image: John the Baptist, detail, Isenheim Altarpiece.

Note: This devotion taken from the conclusion to last Sunday's sermon on John 3:22-30.

He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).

Brethren, the spiritual application for us is simple: John the Baptist has provided for us here a model for the mindset that should govern every born-again believer. We should make much of Christ and little of ourselves.

I wonder how many of our personal problems would be solved if we applied John’s attitude to ourselves. How many problems would be solved if we made much of Christ and little of ourselves? In our homes and families? In our workplaces? In our church? In our communities?

One of the persons who immediately came to mind when I considered examples of a John the Baptist type spirit was the great Reformer John Calvin. I’ve said before that one of the things I admire about John Calvin is that when he died he left orders to be buried in a pauper’s grave with no marker, for he feared people would make more over him than they would of Christ.

I thought of that when we were in Krakow last month and our walking tour guide told us there were 30 statues and memorials to John Paul II in the city and over 1000 in the country. What a contrast!

In the biography of Calvin which I read while on that trip, the author noted the conflicts the Geneva Reformer had with a heretic named Servetus. This man would rail against Calvin and call him all manner of vile names, to which Calvin responded that all his defamations were like “the barking of a dog at a pile of manure” (H. J. Selderhuis, John Calvin, 33).

That is a John the Baptist type of spirit. I am nothing. Christ is everything. He must increase. I must decrease. May we have that same spirit.

In his commentary on John 3:30, Calvin observes: “and this zeal of John all Pastors of the church [we might justly add: and all believers within the church] ought to imitate by stooping with the head and shoulders to elevate Christ.”

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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