a man can only receive what is given from heaven, baptism, ceremonial washing, controversy which crush ministry, Copernicus, earth, from the Lord, Galileo, gifts and calling, gifts for God, I don't have to do what everyone else is doing, Jesus is the center of it all, John 3:23-26, John the Baptist, Max Lucado quote, pride, Ptolemy, questioning new faith, shooting the wounded, sun, the universe, We exist to make a big deal out of Jesus, weak faith
Have you finally arrived at the conclusion that who you are and what you can do is from the Lord? Many of us know this in principle… but has it sunk deep down into your soul and spirit yet?
The Bible doesn’t shirk away from controversy. Listen as a disagreement arose over “ceremonial washings or baptism” in John’s and Jesus’ day.
Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized. (This was before John was put in prison.) An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan–the one you testified about–well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him. John 3:23-26
A controversy like this can crush a ministry more quickly than a frontal assault. This is especially true when God is moving and people are being impacted for good. I don’t want to go into the details of ceremonial washings now, but when someone comes in and says…”Your doing it all wrong. You are not doing God’s ministry like others. So-in-so is doing it better up the road and God is blessing. You have lost your crowd to the new guy, Jesus. You are yesterday’s news.” — Your inner man has to be ready to absorb it and you must be comfortable with your calling.
Now in reality, John is supposed to lose his following to Jesus. But what does this kind of talk do to some people, especially those who are new and a little weak in their faith? I have seen many new believers stumble and fall, not because of being attacked by a non-believer, but because another believer questioned some aspect of their new faith. It is true… “The Christian army is the only army which shoots its own wounded.”
These types of controversies didn’t derail John the Baptist. In fact, it only served to reveal his true character. He was a servant. From these last few words of John we can learn what it means to be a great servant of the Lord. John’s reply was simple… “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven…” (John 3:27) John wasn’t personally threatened when others succeeded, because it wasn’t his ministry in the first place.
One of the stages every believer must eventually arrive is to realize their gifts and abilities are not given for their own personal fulfillment, but are given for God’s uses and purposes. Knowing this keeps the focus upon the Lord and not on the believer. It keeps you from becoming proud of yourself, because you realize that anything you’re able to do, any good that comes from your effort, is really God’s doing. Like John, you aren’t threatened when someone else begins to receive recognition. You can be at peace if God sees fit to remove your ministry, change your ministry. or even change you. You’re at His disposal. It is true “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance;” but ministry and placement can change many times, if you are listening to the Lord. I have had to learn this lesson several times, because I wanted my ministry to go and flow a certain direction.
The Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century postulated that the earth was the center of the universe. This meant the earth was still and the other planets orbited and rotated around it. All this made sense, and people believed it for over 1400 years. It wasn’t until the 16th century that Copernicus began to question the status quo. In his mind the old model just didn’t work. Copernicus figured out that not only did the earth itself rotate, but it also revolved around the sun.
Scandal! Heretic! Unbeliever! The world must revolve around us personally. This was hard for people to accept. Galileo came along advocating for these same lines of thought. The church promptly kicked him out and the state put him under house arrest. Both Copernicus and Galileo pointed to the sun and said “the center of the universe.” It took a long time for people to accept their personal world was not the center of the universe.
Max Lucado, in his book It’s Not About Me, writes, “What Copernicus did for the earth, God does for our souls. Tapping the collective shoulder of humanity, He points to the Son – His Son – and says “Behold the center of it all.”
Here is the point… God does not exist to make a big deal out of us. We exist to make a big deal out of Him. Is the Lord the center of your universe today?