I started the year reading John's Gospel. I have got stuck. Not in a 'what's going on here?' kind of a way, but in a 'there's no point reading further until I have thought long and hard about this' kind of a way.The good people of Barney's are therefore 'stuck' there too - we've spent four weeks in John so far, and we haven't finished chapter one!
The main reason I am stuck… is John the Baptist.
I am stuck on his humility. When the Jewish leaders ask who he is, he is very clear on who he is not. He answers them unequivocally. "I am not the messiah. I am not worthy even to untie his sandals. I am nothing. He is everything."
This is striking for me, in a culture where self-promotion, self-centredness and self-addiction are prominent. Don Miller captures well the spirit of the age in his book 'Blue Like Jazz' when he writes,
The most difficult lie I have ever contended with is this: Life is a story about me.
John Baptist resists the temptation to get a bit of limelight for himself, even at a time when the Jewish people are desperately seeking someone to follow. Surely he was a little tempted to get something out of this situation for himself? Instead, the clear motto of John Baptist's ministry:
He must become greater, I must become less (John 3:30)
How often we are tempted to think of ourselves first, and others later, if at all? How often do I look like I'm listening to someone, but actually I'm planning something else or wondering what's for tea? How often do we seek some benefit for ourselves in our interactions with other people?
John Baptist is a powerful reminder - it's not about me. Life is not a story about me.
Life is, rather, a brilliant Jesus story about the creation and redemption of a fantastic world gone wrong. My life, if it is to have meaning, is designed to be part of this great story - which is most definitely not just a story about me.