Posted by: mikenicholsblog | May 10, 2010

pre-game prayers

During my college years, I played a lot of intramural basketball. It was a big deal at my school and a very big deal to me. Before games I would whisper a prayer from John 3:30. The words from this verse were easy to remember and made me feel like I was on the right track. There is no doubt that during the games I struggled with living up to the lofty prayer. It’s been 30 years since those pre-game basketball prayers, but the words are still as easy to remember.  And possess the same power to keep me (and you) focused in the “game” we are all in the midst of now … life. So what are those words?  John 3:30 …

He must increase, but I must decrease. (KJV)

He must become greater; I must become less. (NIV)

This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines. (MSG)

Stepping into the scene in which these words were written gives us great insight into the heart of John the Baptist. He was a forerunner of Christ and the man who baptized the Savior. Humanly speaking, he could have developed an inflated ego of his spiritual role and accomplishments. A disagreement developed over the issue of purification, and John’s disciples were involved. His disciples were putting John in a competitive situation with his Lord. John the Baptist showed his humility with the words above. There was no doubt for him, Christ was to be exalted.

If we are to accept the intent of the words, “He must increase“, then there can be no doubt about today’s focus. It is certainly easy to look back and see our failures. It goes against our nature to decrease or become less. Did 10 points and His glory mean more to me than 20 points and my glory back then?  Even if it didn’t, what is behind me, and in the larger sense us, cannot be changed. The key question is: will the next stride, or mile marker on our journey see Him increasing?

If you and I are focused on the fact that Christ must increase, our lives will exalt Him. Christ followers, however, struggle with a conflict between must and should. We know that we should follow the pattern of Christ, and live with His purpose in mind, and live as forgivers, etc…  But when the intention of should, changes to the action of must, He will increase.

No reason to kid ourselves, this tension between Him increasing and us promoting our own agenda, will always be a battle. But for just today, and maybe even tomorrow, decide that Christ must be exalted in your life. And when He wins, so do you!

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