Shining in the Shadows
“He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me. I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.’” – John 1:30-31 (NLT)
So much energy, pride, reputation, and identity packed into that three-letter word.
Not much that we do in life escapes the pervasive consideration of how it will affect our persona. Having learned well that our “playing small does not serve the world,” we practice humility with a guarded caution. No one who knows their value ever wants to be overlooked or denied the recognition they’ve earned.
Yet, here is John the Baptist, the prolific first-century prophet of Israel, using all his personal and spiritual cachet to promote the significance of an upstart Nazarene rabbi with sketchy credentials. In turning the spotlight away from himself toward Jesus, John the Baptist was practicing much more than guarded humility.
John was signaling that his own greatness could only be realized by his diminishment in the presence of one greater than himself.
Every healthy ego knows when to bow before virtues that are more worthy and more enduring than itself.
When strong personalities surrender their demands in service of family cohesion, families survive.
When political officials sacrifice personal aggrandizement for public service, democracy is renewed.
When outstanding athletes keep their prominence in check to recognize the prowess of their teammates, championships are won.
John the Baptist surrendered his greatness to Jesus; Jesus surrendered his greatness to Love; and Love surrenders all without ever losing its own awesome value.
Lord, use my greatness in service of that which is greater than me. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.