8/28/16 - Tweetables - He > I

Speaker: Lead Pastor Justin Douglas

Scripture: John 3:30

Well hello and welcome to The Bridge Podcast. This is Pastor Justin. This is not our typical teaching Podcast because usually you would be listening to me live as I gave the life connection on Sunday, but this Sunday we had some technical errors, and those errors left us without a recording of the service. And so instead of missing that teaching and missing that opportunity for many of you who maybe couldn't make it, certainly we're in the last kind of, I guess, Sunday for many of you for what you would consider summer, and so you might've been gone, you might've not been able to hear the teaching, and so I'm sitting at my desk now. I'm going to record a Podcast of the teaching from Sunday. So if you want a refresher on what we talked about on Sunday, awesome. If you missed Sunday, then this is for you as well.

We continued our Tweetables series this past Sunday. I started with the question of...kind of a quick poll of the room you might say...and I asked people to participate. I guess, as you're driving in your car, as you're, you know, washing dishes while listening to this, as you're doing whatever you do while you listen to this, even run, I don't know what you're doing. But I asked people raise your hand if you've ever heard of Edmund Halley. And then I said, raise your hand if you've ever heard of Isaac Newton. As you can imagine, the majority of the room raised their hand when I said Isaac Newton, and I think we had about ten people raise their hand when I said Edmund Halley.

Everyone knows Isaac Newton or at least they usually remember the famous falling apple story. Newton discovered and introduced the laws of gravity in the 1600s, which revolutionized science studies. But without Edmund Halley, none of us would probably know Isaac Newton. Halley challenged Newton to think through his notions. Halley corrected Newton's mathematical errors. Halley prepared geometrical figures to support Newton's discoveries. Halley pushed back the hesitant Newton to write his great work. He just pushed him to do that. Not pushed back, pushed him toward. The title of that, by the way, was "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy." So if you blew through your summer reading list and you're looking for something at the tail end of summer here, "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy" sounds just great.

Halley edited and supervised that publication. Halley actually financed the printing of that publication even though Newton had more money, had the ability to do it...had even more access and ability to do it. Halley was so excited about the project, so excited about the advance of science, that he even fronted the money. Historians call it one of the most selfless examples in the history of science. And Newton began almost immediately to reap the rewards of prominence, and Halley received little credit.

Now, I just said Halley {Hay-lee} because the way you would pronounce his name is Halley {Holly}, but you guys would probably know of him as Halley {Hay-lee}. He used the principles to predict the orbit and return of a certain comet that now bears his name, but that only happened after his death. So even as he was alive, he never knew he would be credited for much of anything, and the truth is, even the comet we celebrate, Halley's Comet, only comes every 76 years. The year 1986 was the last time we saw it. I was two years old {Justin chuckles}. I don't think I saw it {Justin chuckles}. And when it comes back again, it's 2062, so that's the next time it's actually planning on being here.

So when you think about that, you're like, wow. We popularly call this Halley's Comet, and he was not concerned with credit. He got this comet, okay, but none of us really know his name and none of really know his real name because Halley {Hay-lee} isn't even how you would pronounce his name. But then, we all know Isaac Newton, who wouldn't have had any success or...maybe 'any success' is a little strong...wouldn't have had nearly the amount of success if he hadn't had this other person pushing him forward.

But see, Halley wasn't concerned with getting credit. He was concerned with advancing the cause of science. There's something to be learned here as we read our passage for today. Where is our concern? Are we really desiring credit or are we desiring to advance the cause of God, the Kingdom of God? See, Halley was a scientist who, for him, any new science discovery was so important that it needed to be published, it needed to be out there. People needed to have access. It needed to be critiqued, edited, all of this. More studies needed to be done. For him, the goal was to advance the cause, not to grow his brand or his name.

And so as we look today at our Tweetable, which we are going to cheat a little bit because typically these Tweetables have been 140 characters or less and that's all we cover, which is our Tweetable for today, but we're going to get some context because it is a small passage that we're going to cover that's our main passage, but we are going to get some context before that so that we can see what's happening in the story even before we get that passage.

So our passage today is John 3:30, but we're going to start in John 3:22. So here we go.

So people are coming to John to be baptized. This is kind of this exciting time. There's this Messianic expectation, and Messianic expectation simply means that the people at the time had had all of these prophecies about a Messiah coming. They had waited so long for this Messiah, and for them they had been under Roman rule and Roman authority, and they could not really probably stand how long this was taking for a Messiah to come to remove Roman authority, to reestablish the kingdom of Israel, to sit on a throne, and rule Israel. This was supposed to be the Messiah. You might call it the second coming of David if you know the stories of David in the Old Testament. It would be a warrior king, a warrior Messiah.

And so John the Baptist becomes this kind of picture of like 'Is he the new king maybe? Is he the new Messiah that we've been waiting for?' There's all this mystery surrounding the Messiah, by the way. Some would've thought he was a warrior, probably many would've thought he was a warrior, some might've thought he might be something different. But in this time, there is this expectation that's rising because they're oppressed. They're under Roman rule and authority, and they're leaning into these prophets who have told them the Messiah will come.

And so at this time, John is growing in popularity. John the Baptist is growing in popularity in the region. People are coming out to the Judean countryside to be baptized, and at the same time now, we have Jesus starting to establish His ministry. But John has been around. John has been baptizing and growing in number, getting his own disciples even. And so these two kind of stories, they intersect because John baptizes Jesus, and then Jesus goes off and starts doing ministry is kind of where this is at, and here's what happens.

"An argument developed between some of John's disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing." And really quick we'll just stop there. Ceremonial washing was this...I guess ritual that you would do as you went into the temple. You would also do it in other spaces where you would clean yourself. It was a picture of you being clean enough to enter into the temple, clean enough as you entered further into the temple, you would do more and more ceremonial washing. Well, John is baptizing and so most likely what they're arguing about is what's the difference between baptism, what's the difference between ceremonial washing. I'm sure that was a huge debate at that time. So that continues...that conversation's happening, but then really the root of what's happening here is in this next verse. I think it's verse 26.

"They came to John and said to him, 'Rabbi, that man who is with you on the other side of the Jordan, the one you testified about,' which is Jesus, "look, He is baptizing and everyone is going to Him." And everyone is going to Him. Now, all of this debate of the day about ceremonial washing and baptism, that's not really what's happening here. What seems to be happening is the debate, whatever it was, moved quickly to point out that Jesus is more popular than we are. Jesus is baptizing and everyone's going to Him, but John you started this whole baptism thing. In essence, Jesus is stealing all of our converts, everyone's going to Him, what do we do, John? You could say John's disciples have this competitive mindset. And this is what John replied.

He said, "A person can receive what is given them from Heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said I am not the Messiah." So, I'm not the one you're expecting. "But I am sent ahead of Him. The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete."

John pretty much says you are my disciples, you know I said that I am not the Messiah. The bride belongs to the groom. Now, the groom also has a best man; the best man has a lot of responsibility. Typically a speech, holding the rings, planning the bachelor party. In our context {Justin chuckles}, the best man doesn't really have that much responsibility honestly. He stands up there. His job is to not fall over and to hand the rings and to maybe say, you know, to say a speech at the dinner, and to maybe plan a bachelor party.

In a Jewish wedding, though, the best man had quite a bit more. He was supposed to actually present the bride. So, not the father...in our culture, it would be the father. Now, a Jewish wedding ceremony included all kinds of things. It can be seven days, so certainly our context for what a wedding looks like and the Jewish context for what a wedding would look like are incredibly different.

But the bride and groom analogy is used throughout the New Testament. The bride is the church, the groom is Jesus, and it seems as if John the Baptist is positioning himself as the best man. He played an important role. The best man, you know, they get dressed up nice, they hold the hand of the bride, take her to the groom, and it's easy maybe to mistake him for the groom for a moment. He's dressed up nice, he's standing next to the bride, maybe they're even...arms locked. But that's not who he is, and so his disciples maybe have seen him and said, 'Hmmm. That looks like the Messiah. But really he was delivering, you could say, he was handing the bride (the church) to Jesus, preparing the way. This is what John the Baptist was doing.

John knows his role, and John knows his purpose, and John is determined to stay in his lane. And from that place, he gives us one of the most profound Tweetables of this entire series that we've been in. It might be our smallest but potentially the most difficult to live out and to put into action in our lives. And this is our last Tweetable of the summer. Here it goes. Here's what it is, John 3:30.

He must become greater; I must become less. Other translations say it this way: "He must increase, and I must decrease." Imagine a best man that tries to steal the show at a wedding. What does that look like? That would look crazy. If you attended that wedding, it would be embarrassing to watch.

And then I thought to myself, I think I saw a video...not where like a best man intentionally tried to steal a wedding, but where he did {Justin chuckles}. The video, we showed it on Sunday. Obviously this doesn't work over the format of podcast audio. {Note: Since this is the blog version, the spoken description of the scene appears after the embedded video below.)

But you see the zoom-in of the bride, the groom, and the pastor; and they're standing on this like elevated platform, and there's like two steps up to them, and the pastor just gets done feeding the bride the last vow that she speaks. And at that moment, he asks the best man to present the rings. The best man is staring off into space, just completely absent what's happening. You can tell he's not really paying much attention, pretty much what most best men do in this moment, and so he catches attention, realizes the pastor's talking to him, obviously gets a little rushed because he's like, oh, man, I'm messing up my one part in this wedding.

So he hustles and hightails it up the two stairs. He trips as he's pulling the rings out of his pocket, and when he trips, he bumps into the bride and into the pastor, who are on this elevated platform with a pool behind them. And the bride and the pastor {Justin laughing} fall into the water right here at this moment during the middle of their wedding. Now it's pretty hilarious. If you YouTube that, just YouTube 'bride falls in pool,' and I'm sure it's like got a million hits at ten different videos.

But anyway, the funniest part about that is the bridesmaids start laughing and then they catch themselves laughing, and then they're like, 'Oh, don't laugh. This is serious. This is not good.' And so imagine, though, as that bride and groom think about their wedding, they're probably not super satisfied about how that went. That wasn't in the plans. The best man didn't do his job and get out of the way. The best man is the thing most people are going to remember about that wedding.

So John shares this principle with us of like, I know my role, I'm the best man, I'm here to prepare the way for this marriage. And this principle to him, he makes it personal. Jesus must become greater, and I must become less.

But hey, we live in a world that throws us lie after lie, and they're so easy to buy into. So lie #1 that we buy into that makes it very difficult for us to live out John 3:30:

Live in a way that increases your possessions. We desire stuff: newest, best, most up-to-date, accumulate more and more. And this is the story we're told. We can become people who live our life for the next purchase. Life becomes something that gets us to the next purchase, to the next vacation, to the next experience, but this isn't how we were designed to live. When we live this way, we've bought into a lie. We've bought into the reality that our possessions may very well possess us. So lie #1 that keeps us from living this John 3:30 principle is that we live in a way that increases our possessions.

We can also live in a way that increases our position. That's a lie we're told. We're told live in a way that increases your position. You know, we all want to probably be more powerful. We all probably want to be more respected. Many of us want to be first. We want our team to finish first if we're at work or for watching a sports team. We desire to position ourselves on the top. As the great philosopher and theologian said, Ricky Bobby, once said, "If you ain't first, you're last." Right? {Justin laughs}

And so we buy into this type of lie that we need to position our life around being first. And there's this show on Netflix called House of Cards that I watch, and I remember one point in House of Cards where the main character, Francis Underwood, was talking to another politician. They were doing some kind of behind-the-scenes shady business, which probably is what actually happens in politics nowadays.

And sometimes when you watch House of Cards...it is a mature show, so if that's something you're into, awesome, but it's interesting because Francis is this character who's really dark and is this character you follow, and sometimes he'll step away from a scene that he's in, and he'll narrate a scene. And you realize as you're watching this...you're watching the conversation but you don't necessarily always know what he's thinking. But he'll step away and tell you what he's thinking. And so after this scene with this politician where he pretty much pays him off, like he's going to get a certain amount of money and that seems to satisfy this politician.

Well, Francis steps back and goes into narrate mode, looks right into the camera, and tells you his intentions. And he said something like this...I didn't...I couldn't find it. I didn't go back and get the exact quote, but I remember it so vividly. He said something like, 'He's interested in wealth. I'm interested in something far more valuable: power.' Power. See, it doesn't take House of Cards to know that there's many people that live in a way to position themselves higher on the chain. They want more power. They want to accumulate position. The higher they can position themselves, the better. Well, that's a lie when we think of the John 3:30 principle that we must become less and He must become more.

Another lie we buy into is:

Live in a way that increases your fame. We all have something to say, and we want someone to hear it, and now we have this great platform called social media or blogging, and there's so much that the technology revolution has given us. It's given us new platforms. Almost daily now we have new platforms, and some of them are sticking, and we're having to navigate and learn new things. Some of you are just now navigating to Facebook. You're like, wow, this is amazing. And some of you are like, Facebook is the oldest thing ever. I closed my account. I don't even care about Facebook.

Because we're seeming to try to find these platforms where our voice can be heard, where we can connect with one another, and these are really healthy...except as I listened in a documentary recently, that we are becoming the "like" generation because our desire, especially for many young people, is to see how many friends we can get, how many likes we can get, how many comments...how many positive comments we can get. And when we are trending, there is value found there. It causes us to live life in a way that orients ourselves toward more likes, toward more friends, toward more followers, toward more plays.

The goal is to increase our fame. Interestingly enough, this was one of the first...was part of one of the first sins. When the serpent said to Eve, "You will not die. God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you," this is what the serpent said, "will be like God." The first temptation was a temptation to be like God. All of these three have that in them. All of these three lies we buy into are part of the first temptation - to be like God, to have access to everything, to have...to have all possessions at my hands. We buy into that. To be all-powerful, to be the most powerful. We buy into that lie to be like God. And we may not think of it that way, right? But that's what's happening. We're buying into that lie, the lie the serpent sold Adam and Eve, and we're continuing to be sold today.

Finally, even, as we talked about just this last lie, the desire to be worshipped, the desire for fame, the desire for likes. The first temptation of the serpent is simply this: you must increase, and God must decrease. And this is not just the first temptation, it is a temptation that plagues us to today and almost everyone in between. And so here's our three take-home / takeaway Tweets that might be helpful for you as you navigate this.

First:

When we live increasing our investment in this world, then we live for very little. But - when we live for things that are eternal, when we live in a way that grows the Kingdom of God, we live with our minds set on eternity. Sharing our faith with others, caring for others, investing in relationships, being a friend to those in need, serving our community and our world, giving generously out of our resources.

Our next series that we're going into, even this Sunday coming up, is Time, Talents, and Treasures, and we're going to talk about all of our resources that we have at our disposal and do we lock them up in a vault or do we use them to further the Kingdom of God. To further the Kingdom of God even within us. How do we do that?

Our takeaway Tweet #2:

We are pretty impatient people. I remember a story. I was at Wal-Mart once, and we were in Wisconsin. I was at Wal-Mart and I'm circling around the parking lot. I'm one of "those people." I'm circling around Wal-Mart, I got two kids in the back, it's snow on the ground because it's Wisconsin, it's pretty much all the time, right? And we're driving around and I'm like, I'm getting a really nice parking spot today. Today, I am willing to sit in this warm car for 10-15 minutes if I have to, to get a front row or pretty close to front row spot because I don't want to walk these kids all the way through all this snow, you know, so I was like, I'm going to do that.

So I'm circling around. Of course I'm not the only one with this idea. There's other people that have this idea. They want to circle around, too, so we're circling around. Finally I see this lady about ten minutes in walk out and walk to her car, which is like three parking spots from the door, so I'm like YES! So I pull up right there, I turn the turn signal on, watch her load her groceries in. I'm like, yes, I got a spot, totally worth it, awesome. And she goes in her car and proceeds to like check Facebook or I don't know what she's doing on her phone, but she's just sitting there, has no desire to leave that spot now, and it's been like five minutes. It's been a good amount of time. And I'm kind of like sitting here like, you saw me while you were unloading your groceries chillin' here, what's happening? You know?

And then...this big old truck pulls up behind me - and when I say 'big old truck,' I mean like monster-truck huge - pulls up behind me, and I was like, okay, what's happening here? And he didn't have the room to get around me I guess, or didn't have the ability to, I don't know, but he just starts honking at me. So I'm sitting here impatient because this lady isn't backing out of her spot. Now this guy behind me is impatient, honking his horn, and finally gets to the point a couple minutes in where he just lays on the horn, like just lays on the horn. And I'm like, well what am I supposed to do, man, I'm not losing this spot because the moment I leave this place right here, some other person's going to come in, going to take my spot with the turn signal, and then this person's going to decide to move out.

So I'm sitting here; I'm standing my ground, and I'm like, 'Please don't run me over.' Please don't run me over because he's in a huge truck, probably could've ran me over. And what he does, he pops it in reverse and like guns it as fast as he can. Like there's no way he looked behind him, and he was angry, you could see it in just the way he drove this car. He was impatient, so he's flying backwards.

Finally, the lady leaves, I get in the spot, I go in, and let's just be honest, most of our adventures to Wal-Mart require patience, right? We're sitting there, maybe in a busy line to figure out how we're going to, you know, get through the line {Justin laughs}. I mean, what's so frustrating about Wal-Mart is you go in, you get your groceries or whatever you're getting... Okay now, by the way, Wal-Mart isn't necessarily a place I frequent, but in that, it is a very convenient place to go. You've got kids, you got one-stop shopping here. Then you get there, and you're like, oh, this convenient place where I can one-stop shop has 45 lanes, awesome. But 4 of them are all that are ever open, and so now I have to wait in a line as long as this.

The point I'm trying to get to is, on that day alone, in that small little story I just told you, I was impatient. The guy behind me was impatient. The people in the store were impatient. The people standing line were impatient. As people got back out to their cars, they were probably leaving impatient. We live in a world that tells us we deserve instant gratification and if you want something, then you deserve it right now. You deserve it fast, and we all want to be first. We forget the words of Jesus that the first will be last and the last will be first. And we forget the words of John here, that we must decrease and Christ must increase.

Here's the difference, though, and here's the reason patience is so important in this key to us decreasing and Christ increasing in us even. When we live patiently, we are open to serving others. When we live patiently, we are open to seeing the needs of others. When we live patiently, we are open to Jesus being greater and us being less. Because when we are in a hurry, life becomes all about our needs. In that moment, I was not at all concerned about the guy in the truck behind me. I couldn't care less about his needs. I was concerned about my needs. That's not the posture or position that we should place ourselves in if we are asking for Christ to increase and us to decrease.

So patience is a huge part of this because we live in a world, again, that tells us we need it now, we need it now, it's yours to have now, instant gratification, so we need to start creating rhythms in our lives that allow us to have more patience.

Our final take-home Tweet (#3):

The more we lean into the life of Jesus, the more we are protected from desiring things like possessions, power, and fame. We become okay with the idea of decreasing because we see the bigger picture, we see Jesus, we see Jesus elevated, we see the power of Jesus on display in the world, we become more concerned with advancing the cause of Jesus than elevating our name. This is why John the Baptist spoke with joy. Right before John said, "He must become greater; I must become less," he said these words: "The joy is mine, and it is now complete." Meaning, 'I was the best man, and I did my job well. I followed the will of the groom, and I delivered the bride, and I got out of the way.'

And we have a job. Our job is to elevate Jesus to a broken world. May we have great joy at the end of our lives when we see that our work made a difference in the Kingdom of God. Let's pray.

Good and gracious God, may we increase our investment in the Kingdom of God. May we grow in patience and become aware of the needs around us. God, may we look more like Jesus each and every day. May we immerse ourselves in the story of Jesus, in the teachings of Jesus, in the life of Jesus, and may that be an encouragement to us as we fight and push back against some of the lies we are told. Jesus must become greater, and we must become less. May this be the motto of our journey through life. May we be marked by humility instead of pride. In the name of Jesus, amen.