What comes to mind when you hear John the Baptist’s name? If you picture a camel hear-wearing, locust-eating, wilderness dweller, you’re in good company. John was all of those things, but there’s more to him than what our culture would deem quirky behavior.
John’s ministry was marked by a profound understanding of his purpose. He readily admitted, “I am not the Christ,” and declared, “He who is coming after me is mightier than I” (John 1:20; Matthew 3:11). On more than one occasion, he spotted Jesus and remarked, “Behold, the Lamb of God” (John 1:29, 36). One of his most well-known statements summarizes his mission and explains his methods: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (3:30).
My mom and I attended the Living Proof Live event in Cincinnati this past weekend, and Beth Moore defined greatness in a way that made me think of John. She said, “A great person is someone who takes the spotlight and places it on the greatness of God.”
By that definition, John would certainly be considered great. It doesn’t take much study of his life and ministry to realize that he was constantly pointing people to Jesus. John used his influence to say, “Look at Him” instead of the ever-so-tempting, “Look at me.” This sense of purpose was rooted in an accurate understanding of self and Savior.
Knowing who he wasn’t enabled John to have a clearer grasp of who he was. He wasn’t the Savior. He wasn’t the promised Messiah. He wasn’t the One who could take away sin. He wasn’t the light. But he was a witness to the One who was and still is all of those things. John’s purpose in life wasn’t to be in the spotlight, but to reposition it so others could see the true Star in all His glory.
John’s ministry had a unique place and purpose in salvation history, but his example is one we can emulate right where we are. The specifics differ as to how and where each of us does this, but what we are to do is the same across the board: let Christ take center stage, and keep the spotlight on Him.
This may not seem like an appealing way to spend our lives because it’s the antithesis of everything our culture tells us is important. We’ve been trained to think of greatness as personal achievement and accolades, but true greatness recognizes Ultimate Greatness and make sure He is always in the foreground. There’s only One who deserves the spotlight and the very best use of our lives is making sure others know all about His.