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Less (really) is more

21/01/2024 - Jody Destry

Key Scripture:

John 3:22-30 (ESV)

22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptising. 23 John also was baptising at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptised 24 (for John had not yet been put in prison).

25 Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptising, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Observations:

John models here an acute sense of awareness to the move of God that was happening around him to be able to respond in such a way.

here was no hint of jealousy or insecurity present in John as Jesus influence and popularity began to increase. Why was this the case?

hint: John had a sense of deep clarity around his call and assignment.

Challenges:

We like to be at the centre of our own lives, and often we also like to be at the centre of other peoples lives too. We love to feel important, needed and celebrated.

Decrease is difficult for us. It makes us uncomfortable.

The Invitation:

The invitation is to NOT be at the centre – to NOT be in the spotlight and to NOT have the starring role in the story – but instead to take a posture of decrease in order that God’s presence and power and will would increase in us and be amplified in our lives so much that when others see us, what they really see is not us at all but a glimpse and a reflection of Jesus – of his kindness, his love, his grace, his mercy, his generosity, his gentleness, his faithfulness, his goodness……

Dallas Willard (Spirit of the Disciplines)

“The point is that in our culture we are conditioned to think that the most valuable way to do anything is to do or have more of it, and so we work more, consume more, learn more and get more friends on Facebook. We can then unwittingly transfer this way of thinking to our spiritual lives, and so we study more, pray more, fellowship more. The problem is not that such activities are bad or wrong (as a Bible professor I can certainly attest to the value of reading the Word!), but that we have a difficult time seeing the importance of disciplines in which we don’t do or add something.

However, it is important to realise that sometimes we need to take things out of our lives rather than just adding things to them. When we take something out of our lives, we create a space that needs to be filled, and amazing things can happen when we open up spaces in our lives. It is easier to hear the voice of God when we practice silence because our world is not filled with competing noises. Doing without something can help us appreciate it more. Sometimes when we remove something from our lives, even for just a short period of time, we discover how much unnecessary time we spend on it, or even how much it controls us…. Abstinence makes way for engagement. … A proper abstinence actually breaks the hold of improper engagements so that the soul can be properly engaged in and by God. However, the disciplines of abstinence can be harder to practice because we have to overcome our need to feel “productive.” In this we need to be willing to go against our inclinations if we are going to be able to make space for God to reveal himself to us and to show us our needs, shortcomings, blessings or his will for our lives.”

The pathway to increase, growth, maturity and fruitfulness in your life is, not by being bigger and louder, or by just doing more or just adding more into your life – it’s through adopting a posture of decrease, it’s through removing those things in our lives that are no longer serving us – the unhealthy behaviours or attachments, redundant attitudes and mindsets, unhelpful narratives, surrendering our often over-inflated egos, surrendering our pride and our need for assurance and control. Decluttering the mess and noise and creating space and room for God to increase, for his voice to be amplified and his presence to be magnified in our lives.

Questions:

Q: Am I open to God revealing himself to me in 2024?

Q: What needs to decrease in me in this year to make room for God’s will and work to increase in my life? What needs to be less, removed or surrendered in my life in 2024 to see an increase of God’s presence, power and purpose?

Q: How clear are you on who God has called you to be and what your current assignment is?

Q: Does my life point people to Jesus?

Q: Does the way I live and work reflect kingdom values and principles? Telling people about Jesus is often less about what you say and much more about how you live – are you living out God’s kindness, integrity, humility, servant-heartedness, self control.

Q: How might we imitate the kind of humility we see in John in our lives this year?

Q: Am I secure in who God has created and called me to be?

Q: Am I experiencing contentment and joy in my life?