Day 9: Staying grounded
Staying grounded can be hard. Grounded in all that God has blessed me with. Grounded in my marriage, my family, my career – you name it. The world always seems to want to draw my attention away. And let’s be real, here: it’s easy to give into the distractions. Today, John the Baptist (JB) shows us a life that is grounded in Jesus.
“I need this new car… a Jeep, really. And I need it to be blue, and I need it now...” I compare the car I see on TV (or my neighbor’s driveway) to what I have. A marketing campaign is successful when it gets us thinking – when it convinces us – that we need the “thing” it is selling.
For me, many times it happens when I compare. I cross the line between being satisfied with what God has given me and thinking I need more. Or I look at what God is doing in me, say professionally, but my ego wants more. To be more like that guy who has more readers. Even writing – the motivation for writing this blog, for example – can get messed up.
Not so for JB. You and I will not read much more about him. He does his job about as best as a human being can. His job? Announce Jesus to his world. (Matthew chapters 11 and 14 tell what happens to JB.)
The author of this Gospel, John the Evangelist (aka John the Apostle, or Saint John) is not John the Baptist. Two different folks who share the same first name.
JB is cool. He is himself. He dresses wildly. He is outspoken. He is focused.
The story we read today is one we all know well (at least I do). Someone runs up to you and says, “Hey those guys over there are doing better than us, what should we do?”
My reaction? Attack them! Show off, and show them up! But not JB. Cool as a cucumber, he says not to sweat it – that’s Jesus, guys! Or, as he puts it, “I must decrease and He must increase.”
The entire scene begins with the phrase, “After this...” And so I’m curious – after what? Well, it’s after Jesus was hanging out with Nicodemus. (By the way, Jesus had a real effect on this fella... stay tuned). This one-to-one encounter with Jesus changes to a group field trip. Jesus is teaching his team to be about His Father’s business.
John’s Team notices, and they compare themselves. How do we know this? There is an argument. Comparisons leads to debate which leads to argument. This seems to be a natural human process. We love to debate, especially about religion. Then we argue. Then we split.
John points out, “We are all on the same team.”
Now let me say, I am not suggesting you “go along to get along.” We all need to know what and whom we are following. JB shows us. “He must increase, and I must decrease.” It was true for JB, it is true for me.
JB resists the temptation to be in the limelight and not only points to Jesus, but he also loves on him, talking about how he is so happy for him – the way a best man is happy for a groom!
The “other John” is not threatened by JB’s love of Jesus. Notice how Jesus’ self-proclaimed best friend, the one who is writing what we read, does not edit out the “other John.” Instead of comparing himself to JB, he celebrates him. Both JB and John the Evangelist are grounded in Jesus.