A Need for Shifting Loyalties
Meditation on John 3:27-30 by Cris Cramer
John 3:27-30 (NIV):
To this John replied, ďA man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ĎI am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.í The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroomís voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.Ē
Hereís a story about baptism and jilted disciples. There was a period of time when Jesus and his disciples, and John with his disciples, were all in the same region, teaching and baptizing. At some point a conflict developed, one which the author delicately avoids writing about in detail, but the upshot is that Johnís disciples go to him and say ďYou know that man you baptized? The one called Jesus? Now heís baptizing people too, and everyone is going to him.Ē
You can almost feel their indignity on the page; how dare he, they imply, how dare he set up shop on his own and outshine our teacher? Whoís been out here all this time, preaching Godís word and calling the people to repentance? Now this new teacher is drawing everyone to him, away from the good work our master John is doing and that God is doing through him. How can that be right?
Johnís response is so humble, so clear-sighted. He reminds his disciples that the point was never about him, but about God; now that Godís chosen one has come, itís only right that the people go to him for teaching and blessing. John knows that he himself doesnít have the power to save anyone, that his job and the best thing he can do is to point people toward the real source of saving and healing. Iím sure he loved his disciples and taught them as well as he could, but he also knew their allegiance needed to be transferred to the real Master, Jesus Christ.
I think the process of learning to have faith in Jesus often takes this road. People are attracted to another person, to a church, to a group of friends, to a place that Godís grace peeks through in the actions and interactions of ordinary people. Thatís where we begin, because thatís what we understand. But if we are really growing in faith and understanding, at some stage Jesus needs to come to the fore, he must take the center place. Our allegiance needs to shift away from our friends, our churches, our faith groups, our pastors and teachers, and onto the Master himself. We will continue to need friends, churches, and teachers, but they are not the real source of saving and healing. Only Jesus can do that. He can and does use other people to further his work, but he is the source.
I have at different times been devoted to churches, individuals, organizations; Iíve also been really hurt when those things let me down, when they didnít live up to the standard of grace, truth, and behavior I needed. As I grow and live and experience new things, Iím learning where my own loyalties need to be shifted, where I need to let go of an old allegiance and devote myself wholly to the Master, my teacher, Jesus Christ who saves and heals me.
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