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Dear COA Family,

A great part of our focus in this season of Advent is on the life of John the Baptist.

This should not be surprising as John the Baptist was the one who was “the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’” (Mark 1:3).

In other words, he was the one who called on everyone to not only look forward to the coming of the Saviour of the world, but also prepare their hearts to receive him.

Yet there is another important aspect of his life’s attitude that we can all learn from – his humility working out from his deep understanding of God’s call on his life.

In John 3, John the Baptist told his disciples of his life’s mission: “He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease” (v 30).

Not only should Jesus be glorified and highlighted in all of John the Baptist’s words and actions, John himself must also take a back seat and become more and more insignificant. The spotlight must be on Christ and this can only happen when John stepped out of it. And this he willingly and gladly did. The two aspects must go together!

In our own lives, how are we living this truth out?

Often we have no qualms about glorifying Jesus in our lives, behaviour and speech. After all, Jesus is the Saviour and the Lord of the earth. And he should have the highest honour in everything.

Yet when it comes to us fading away in the background, it becomes more difficult. We are concerned with having our own agendas pursued and our achievements recognised, even though we claim to give glory to the Lord. We give the excuse that we are doing this for the sake of Christ.

I sometimes witness this phenomenon in Christian ministry when leaders are unwilling to cede authority and recognition to others to allow them to rise up and grow, or struggle to give up the reins of influence even if they have stepped down. This stems primarily from an insecurity of loss of personal significance. And it is not glorifying to Christ.

In this season, may we learn from John the Baptist to not only increase Jesus in our lives, but also simultaneously decrease ourselves willingly. We will then be filled with our Lord’s joy as we fulfil his purposes more fully in our lives.

God bless,
Revd Ian