In scripture, the man referred to as “the Baptist” was considered a wild one… who lived on the outskirts, dressed in camel hair and with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and honey. Somehow, it’s easy to consider him something of a mad man, a person from the fringes, one whom only the most perceptive could learn to follow.
But we also know that he was popular, that he drew great crowds to him… crowds who had to travel in from cities and villages. They listened to his words, were baptised by him. By the John the Baptist, who was a man of some stature and influence. And they were readied for something greater, for someone who would come next.
And when that moment did arrive, when Jesus appeared upon the scene, John needed to step aside. Needed to surrender his position of influence and authority… over to another. In what is perhaps the greatest six word prayer, John stated: “He must increase, I must decrease (John 3:30).” John fully understood his own place relative to the one whom he had proclaimed, knowing that he was, in fact, unfit to even untie the laces of his sandal (John 1:27).
It’s a prayer because they are words we can repeat and a sentiment, a way of life, that we can embrace. To lessen ourselves so that we can allow Jesus to increase in our own lives is a worthy pursuit. To empty ourselves of our desires, our failings, our hopes, our preferences, our aspirations, our trappings… all so that we can make available more room for Christ within us is really the point.
It is decreasing… for good reason.