It Isn’t Me (John 1:19-20)

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This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.” (John 1:19-20)

Read: Genesis 37:1-39:23, 1 Chronicles 2:3-8

Relate: I recently finished reading a very dry, academic work called Christian Missions and the Enlightenment. For some strange reason I went into the work thinking it would be about how the changes in thinking and philosophy during the enlightenment has impacted how we do missions today. Silly me. In reality it was more about the interaction between enlightenment philosophies back in Europe and those on the mission field while these changes in thinking back home were taking place. One redeeming factor in the book was that almost half it was recorded conversations between those going and those sending. I got to read a lot of what these great men of the faith were thinking and saying in their own words.

One thing it was hard to get past was how arrogant some of these missionaries were. Worse then those with boots on the ground, though, were the heads of these mission boards who stayed home. There was an attitude pervasive among so many that said, “We are sending you out to bring civilization and enlightenment to these unwashed savages.” There was an attitude that before a person could truly come to know Christ, they needed to be indoctrinated and acculturated into the glorious benefits of European civilization. Thank God that men like Hudson Taylor, and David Livingston didn’t buy into the hogwash being propagated back home.

React: Unfortunately, this philosophy isn’t completely gone. Secular society idolizes its actors and athletes and such, but the church sometimes does the same. If you were a true disciple you would listen to Craig Groeschel’s podcasts. Or John Piper. Or TD Jakes. Or John MaCarthur. You need to listen to Charles Stanley. Read James Dobson. Or maybe it isn’t the contemporaries. Maybe it is John Calvin. Maybe Luther. Perhaps Spurgeon who has the answers. On the more local level it is the pastor at First Baptist Church, no Trinity Evangelical, no St Jude’s who we should be listening to. I love these men and I am sure most of the local pastors are deserving of respect as well but none of them are as great as John the Baptist. Yet John the Baptist, as well as most of those I’ve named above (and many I could have), would be quick to say, “Don’t look at me. I am only here to point you to One greater. There is a Messiah. It is not me.”

Respond: 

God, I want to glorify You. All too often I get in the way. All too often I begin to get a Messiah complex. I begin to think that if only people would begin to listen to me, or read me, or follow me, or agree with me, then they would be alright. I begin to think that I have all the answers. God forbid, but I even start to think that I am the way. Help me to get out of the way. If necessary, do whatever it takes to humble me. Help me to only reflect You. You alone are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. You alone are the Messiah. You alone are God.

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3 thoughts on “It Isn’t Me (John 1:19-20)

  1. Nothing new under the sun BJ … even Paul encountered Christian celebrity … “For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” 1 Corinthians 1:11-13 (NASB)

    May we all be found IN Christ Jesus learning from the Teacher, the Holy Spirit, God has given those who believe!

    Thanks for writing boldly on a sensitive topic BJ.

  2. Wow. I was quite unaware of how entitled some of these missionaries sounded. What have you that you have not received?…said Paul. Also it is very easy to idolise preachers of the present and the past that are popular. Often the man in the pulpit within your purview is side-lined for more often than not, frivolous reasons. I know I’m guilty. Now more than ever, humility is a commodity but a much needed virtue. Remember 1 Cor 4:7.

    • More than the missionaries, it was the missions boards that mostly conveyed this attitude. The Eurocentric attitude they conveyed (along with a racism that came from ignorance) was similar to the pro-america attitude found in many churches today. We have just learned to decorate our bigotry in nicer words.

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