John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” – John 3:30 (NRSV)
Leonard Bernstein, the renowned orchestra conductor, was once asked, “What is the hardest position to fill?” He replied with zero hesitation:
“Second fiddle. I can always get plenty of first violinists, but to find one who plays second violin with as much enthusiasm, or second French horn or second flute, now that’s a problem! And yet if no one plays second, we have no harmony.”
John the Baptist was happy to play second fiddle to Jesus. He was a virtuoso at second chair. John’s mantra, “He must increase and I must decrease,” is a model for all of us. Less ego, more Christ. That’s the Christian journey.
We put Jesus on the throne, in first chair, not only because he is more deserving but also to keep ourselves off of it. Claiming the throne for ourselves is a recipe for disaster. Our job is to play harmony following Jesus’ lead.
But hear this: even though Jesus is rightly the first fiddle, he had a conductor just as the star quarterback has a coach and the prima ballerina has a choreographer.
Jesus never claimed to be God. He claimed to be one with God. He gave passive acknowledgement to being the Son of God, but he never said, “I am God.”
If we followed that score, this world might start singing a different tune.
Holy Conductor, help me take my cues from Jesus who prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first two books, The Spinner Prince and The Four Guardians are available now.