I’ve heard many a preacher say that we, like John the Baptist, must decrease so that Christ may increase. This theology is flawed at best and crippling at worst.
In my earlier years as a believer I used to pray this on a regular basis. I would wholeheartedly pray, “Lord, let me decrease so that you may increase.” Guess what… God never did answer that prayer.
I’m reminded of that popular Christian song with the chorus: Empty me of myself until the only thing that’s left is more of you, less of me…
The idea that we need to get out of the way so God can work is very popular in Christian culture. We see and hear prayers like:
- More of you, less of me
- Let me decrease that you may increase
- All of you, none of me.
I couldn’t understand it for the life of me. Why would He not want me to step aside so that He could do more through me? Wouldn’t it make sense for Him to just, for lack of a better word, “possess” me and take over?
Perhaps ‘possess’ is the perfect word to describe what I wanted. I wanted God to take over so completely that I would have no choice but to obey Him. When you look at it that way you can see the flaws in that line of thinking. Honestly, it sounds a whole lot more like what the demonic realm does than what God does.
God respects our sovereignty so much that even when our immortal souls are at stake He still gives us a choice. What makes me think that He would respect us any less once we have been saved.
Being created in God’s image means that if I decrease, so does He.
Where Does This Theology Come From
Before we get into fixing this theology let’s look at how we got it; after all, it does sound really “spiritual.”
He (Yeshua) must increase, but I must decrease.
-John the Baptist (John 3:30)
This was something John said when the crowds asked him about Jesus and if we aren’t careful we can easily find ourselves believing this must be a truth for our lives also.
But what is really being said here?
The crowd has asked John about his ministry because they were concerned that Jesus’ disciples were baptizing more people than John.
The context has nothing to do with personality or identity. It has everything to do with the passing of the torch. It was the end of an era.
Here’s what Jesus had to say about it:
Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
-Yeshua (Matthew 11:11)
When Christ arrived the message changed.
It went from, “the messiah is coming” to “the Kingdom is here.”
John understood this and truthfully proclaimed (paraphrasing), “Yeshua and His teachings must increase, but my ministry and way of doing things must decrease because He and His teachings are what we have been waiting for this whole time.”
What Does God Want For You
God created you for a purpose. He’s not into making drones and we are not meant to be robots so praying things like “Let me decrease so that You may increase” will only fall on deaf ears.
So, if God doesn’t want to control us, what does he want?
- God wants you to walk in His power. That means you as you, not you as a puppet on a string.
- God wants you to have a renewed mind. He want’s you to understand how He thinks, what He likes and what He hates. He want’s for you to freely choose to honor Him with your actions by choosing to do the things that please Him.
- God wants you to express the best version of you. God knows exactly who you are and where you come from. He knows what you are capable of and what He can expect form you. All he asks is that you continually bring your best self and He will meet you in your time of need with the power of His Holy Spirit to make up for your lack.
- God wants you to use your gifts and talents for the kingdom. He chose exactly where and when to put you on this earth because He knew that in all of eternity this time and place would be the best for you, your personality and your skills. If you pray for less of you than there is less of you to make an impact on the world for Him and His kingdom.
Responsibility, What’s That
The hard part about all this is that it makes you (me) responsible for what happens or does not happen here on earth. This too is God’s design. Remember way back in the book of Genesis? What was the first thing God commanded us to do? He told us to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:28).
God is still waiting for us to subdue the earth and now that we have the power of Holy Spirit we once again have the ability to do that.
Question: Have you ever prayed like this? Aren’t you glad God didn’t turn you into a robot? You can leave a comment by clicking here.