One of our favorite things about movies is when we see characters go from a lowly or ignorant or simple or pure position and by way of struggle, turmoil and perseverance they ascend to a mature, grounded or changed position. Whether they get a reward or they just survive, we are pulling for them. We want them to succeed and therefore we ultimately want to walk away from that movie feeling hopeful and full of expectation for our own lives. Then there are the movies (more often sequels) that show what comes next. What happened after they won the fight or got the girl or lived happily ever after? We want the after life to be just as exciting and adventurous and hope filled as the journey it took to get there. Unfortunately, as they say, those sequels are never as good as the original. This isn't the fault of our hero or heroine; this is our own doing, this is us trying to manufacture moments that should have never happened in the first place. Yet for some miraculous reason they did happen. For those of us following Jesus, this very same scenario can lead to a let down if we don't watch out for it.
Our life of faith can look a lot like the plot of a movie. When we begin on our journey we think we know a few things and then we get hit, attacked, we feel foolish, we feel like throwing in the towel, we have moments of doubt and it can really look like we were wrong all along. But just as Galatians 6:9 (NKJ) says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap harvest if we do not give up". We unbelievably don't give up and we find that we are gaining in strength and knowledge and insight and wisdom, we stand our ground and then we keep standing through the trust and the grit - we finally get to a place where there isn't a single thing anyone can tell us to convince us otherwise, our faith has reached it's target. We look back at where our understanding was at the start of the journey and it is truly like we were in another place in time (regardless of how long it's been), we made it to another level of understanding because we have lived through it and not only survived but we conquered Romans 8:37 (NASB)
"But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us." So after we make all that progress and we are more confident than ever, though we haven't quite received that which we have been holding steady for, the question begins to burn within us, what happens next?
John 3:30 (TPT)
"So it’s necessary for him to increase and for me to be diminished."
John's words in this particular scripture, turns out, are the point of everything. Every single faith pioneer from the Old Testament to the New all went through an incremental series of events having had incredible miracles interwoven throughout, yes; however, all of them at some point had to become diminished in order for God to be God every step of the way. This is not the byproduct of a promise fulfilled, a promise fulfilled (completion) is a byproduct of God actually becoming our source for ALL THINGS. Matthew 6:33 (TPT) "So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly." Did we catch that? The word ALL is used to describe the things that we are after, and as this translation puts it "the less important things", which of course includes whatever it is that we've taken a step of faith onto that murky water to attain. This means that what every bible faith leader would surely tell us, is that the point is NEVER obtaining the things - the point is allowing God to rise & shine (Isaiah 60:1) through the very core of who we are.
Over the last few years we have seen a steady stream of "high profile" Christian leaders and/or churches experiencing various meltdowns. We don't need to list every single fracture that has happened, because the specifics aren't the point; the point of each news break (no matter the circumstances surrounding) is that John's simple proclamation has been landing on deaf ears. See, in faith and in life the only way that we will be able to see the completion of that which God is accomplishing, is for us to fade away so that the Jesus in us becomes the only thing visible. This is indeed the goal and yet it is so counter culture to the world we live in. The world of idols and celebrities and sharp dressers and hair & nails always done and driving the right cars and living in the nicest houses and keeping that status on par with everyone else and on and on and on; this world is a complete opposite of John's revelation in chapter 3; and yet we are still allowing this type of culture to dictate our Christianity in the 21st Century. But John's clue for all of us is clear, the only way to avoid a downfall, is to ensure that no person is in such a lofty position - that seat is reserved for Jesus, always.
See, with every meltdown, downfall or disruption we devastatingly hear about - for some reason, we continue to ignore John's wisdom as it truly applies to us here. The clue we must start paying attention to is that faith is all consuming, faith isn't merely a people group or a dipping of our toe into the frigid water once in a while when we are in a pinch and need something - faith is life from now on. And even as John revealed, faith is a falling away of ourselves (a diminishing if you will), so that Jesus can increase like never before. Because although we are needed to take our acts of faith all the way to completion, along our journey, we find that the point of it all will eventually morph into the point of all faith acts: to God alone, be the glory and honor and praise. In fact, what we have found to be the TRUTH in any/all water walking is that our job is pretty simple. Keep our focus on Jesus and get our minds out of the way; God will handle everything else (as He says He will in Proverbs 16:4-9) and just watch what happens next. Sure, this feels unproductive and it can seem like we need to be doing more to help God out; but just as Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Jesus, John and the Apostle Paul all found out along their journeys - our part is small and simple: obey God, put actions to that obedience, do not doubt, get out of the way and not only will we get to watch what happens next; we will have secured our participation in what is absolutely about to begin.
ISAIAH 43:19-21 (AMP)
“Listen carefully, I am about to do a new thing,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even put a road in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.
“The beasts of the field will honor Me,
Jackals and ostriches,
Because I have given waters in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert,
To give drink to My people, My chosen.
“The people whom I formed for Myself
Will make known My praise"."