Sometimes, in order to fulfill your purpose, you have to act against your interests.
Just look at the life of John: born with a calling to “go before the Lord and prepare his ways,” when he came of age he shunned the official priesthood of his father and went out into the wilderness. And why? Because that was where the Scriptures said this preparation was to happen…
In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord.
So it was that rather than joining the priesthood of his father Zechariah, John went “baptizing in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mark 1:4)
Because sometimes, in order to fulfill your purpose, you have to act against your interests.
But then he became popular.
All the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Mark 1:5) And all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ. (Luke 3:15)
Even the ancient Jewish historian, Josephus, records the influence John held over the people, to the degree that even the local despot, Herod, felt a chill of insecurity. But what did he do with his popularity? Did he try to build on it and establish a permanent place for himself in the religious hierarchy? If that was what he wanted, then his opportunity came one day with the officials from Jerusalem…
“Who are you?” they asked. John confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, What then, why are you baptizing? John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.
Two days later John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. (John 1:19-37 summarized)
See how he moved the spotlight off of himself and on to another? Because sometimes, in order to fulfill your purpose, you have to act against your interests.
Saturated as my mind is with all things Tolkien, I can’t help but think of that moment in the Lord of the Rings when Frodo offers the one ring to the Lady Galadriel, and despite her long desire that it should come into her possession, she refuses, knowing it is not for her to take, and sends Frodo on with these words…
‘I pass the test,’ she said. ‘I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel.’
Sounds a lot like something the Baptist said in John chapter 3, when the people came to him and said, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan––the one you testified about––look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him!” And what was John’s answer?
He must become greater; I must become less.
Sometimes, in order to fulfill your purpose, you have to act against your interests. As a Christian, you have the same purpose as did John in the wilderness––not to gather followers and popularity for yourself, but to point others to Jesus. How is God calling you to fulfill your purpose today? And what if that purpose is against your best interests?
Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mark 8:35)
Pastor Daren Redekopp