When Your Cousin is Cooler than You

I wonder how often I get in the way? I know I do, but how often?

I’m reading John 3:22-36 this morning, and John begins to get edged out by Jesus in the popularity battle. John has been faithful, living in the desert, serving God as he was called to do. Crowds start to follow him. They believe he is the one who is called to be the Messiah. Young men leave home to be with him in the desert to learn from him and be his disciples. The religious leaders come to him to ask him about God. He has arrived. The kid from the small town with no formal education has made it. Did he ever wonder if he was the Messiah?

Then his cousin Jesus starts coming around. Jesus must have been well known to the religious leaders and many other people before He started baptizing and preaching. So, Jesus shows up on John’s turf (vs. 23), and starts doing the same job John has been doing. John’s disciples get ticked and tell him about it. It reminds me of when another youth ministry is doing something cool, or when God publicly begins to work at another youth group in our area. I hear of kids who have been coming to our cool thing leaving and going to that cool thing.

When it happens to me, I tend to get jealous. Petty. Hurt. I question the effectiveness of what I’m doing. I dismiss the other ministry in my head with stuff like, “They’re selling out. They’re not teaching the Bible. That’s why kids are going.” You know, all of the stuff I hear other youth leaders accuse me and our ministry of doing. I think there is no way God can work anywhere but where I am, because, after all, I am here. I am the seat of all of His blessings.

But what of John? What is his response? Not the same as mine, that’s for sure. He sees things as they really are. He understands his role, and the role that Christ has to play. What strikes me is there doesn’t seem to be any underlying tension. He doesn’t seem jealous, or worried about it. It seems like He knew it was coming, and it’s all part of the plan. How did He know though? I mean, yeah, God told him. But how did He hear it in the middle of all of the other voices telling him “You are the man, John!” I have trouble discerning through those kinds of distracting, deceiving voices.

John gives his cousin center stage. He does it humbly. Almost joyfully, it seems. My prayer for the day is that I might be re-shaped to be like that. A Kingdom builder, not settling for just my kingdom building. Big K, not a little k.