Longing to be Less

Certain things stick in the memory. Over my life, I’ve heard so many sermons, devotions, chapels, and religious talks that most of them have faded from memory. A certain one, though, has always stuck in my mind and it has bothered me for a long time.

In John 3:30, John the Baptist says, “He must become greater; I must become less.” The entire devotion talked about how John wanted to be less important. He sent his followers away after Jesus. He didn’t want the attention. He wanted to die alone in prison if it meant those friends he had knew Jesus. He wanted to become less.

This goes against everything I know. What main character becomes less in his own story? What main character endeavors to be less important, less loved, less followed? It doesn’t make sense. In the standard story arc, the main character grows in some way, and that fights against any sense of “less”! I don’t want to be less important. I’m not going to send my friends away so they can get to know some other friend better and leave me behind. I’m not going to beg my children to never visit me. I don’t want to be alone. After all, I’m the main character in my own story. Shouldn’t I grow in importance as the story continues?

But you see, that’s why the devotion bothered me so much. I had it turned around. Yes, I have a story. But I’m not the main character in my own story. If I think I’m the main character, I’m guilty of what every human has been guilty of: thinking more of myself than I ought. Let’s be honest here: in the story of the world, I started out as a villain. I was the one trying to tear down the Kingdom of Light. Through that King’s mercy, though, I was brought to become a citizen of his Kingdom. And in this story, the King is the main character.

Any time I try to become the main character, I’m getting in the Writer’s way. I’m some second-string character trying to steal the scene. I exist simply to further the main plot: the King fighting to save his citizens from the Kingdom of Darkness and bring as many of that enemy’s kingdom to become citizens of his own. I’m simply a soldier in the army, not the King.

And that’s what John the Baptist knew. He knew he wasn’t the main character. He was a supporting character. He made sure those who followed him knew who the main character was: Jesus. He served the greater plot of the story by pointing to the main character.

And so I long to become less. I’m not the main character. While that fights against so much of what I was born into, it is the truth. I hope I can serve the main character and furthering his plot. I hope that I become less, and Jesus becomes more.

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2 thoughts on “Longing to be Less

  1. I’ve read a handful of stories where the “main character” is never seen, never heard from, only talked about. But he is unquestionably the main character. I think those kinds of stories have helped me to relate to exactly what you’re talking about: that even though I’m more familiar with my own actions and my own words, my life is really about telling HIS story.

  2. It was interesting to read this discourse on John’s life and role. My roommate and I had an interesting discussion about John the other night. His role in life was just so interesting. His whole purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. From what I’ve read and understand it seems that people flocked to John and that he was a fairly popular guy. And yet, like you said, he made himself less that Jesus might be made greater. Truly beautiful! And definitely something to carefully consider as I journey with Christ.

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