When you were a kid, did you ever make your own Scratch Art? Did you ever take a piece of plain white paper and then randomly with a heavy hand lay down various colors of crayon to then overlay with a top coating of black? I always thought scratching off the top layer was cool, marveling as the plain, black surface would come alive and transform as the beautiful and vibrant colors emerged from being hidden underneath. A kind of treasure hunt.
Lately, I’ve been pondering these words from John 3:30 which John the Baptizer spoke concerning his relationship with Jesus, “He must become greater; I must become less.” John knew his role was to set the stage for Jesus, introduce Him, and then back away. He knew he was to become less visible so Jesus would be placed front and center in order to carry out God’s ultimate plan of demonstrating His love to the world. Jesus was to become more and John was to become less.
John was to fade away and Jesus was to shine ever brighter. Kind of like Scratch Art – as the old is taken away and the new appears. As the plain is removed the vibrancy underneath is revealed. As the beauty which had been layered over by sin, though present all along, begins to emerge in all of its glory. As the ordinary is given new life by its old nature being removed, as the image of God emerges more and more in the portrait of Jesus. *
In real life, this scratching away of the old to allow for the new and beautiful to appear can be a rather slow and often painful process. The end result is beautiful, but the process can be difficult. Surrendering to the hand of the Holy Spirit as He very intentionally takes away that which needs to disappear to reveal more and more of Jesus is not always an easy process. As Rich Mullin sang, “Surrender don’t come natural for me. I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want than to take what You give that I need.” How true!
“He must become greater; I must become less.” As I grow older I am realizing more and more how I must become less and Jesus must become more. I’m a terrible loser, which is not at all a good thing, but yet very true. I even had a hard time playing Candy Land graciously with our daughters. Too many times becoming less for me feels like I’m losing, like I’m giving up something to which I would rather hold onto. These words of Rich’s song often resonant in my heart, “Surrender don’t come natural for me. I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want than to take what You give that I need.”
But, if Jesus is to emerge more and more in my life, then I must allow the Holy Spirit, who makes Jesus known, to perfectly and lovingly take away more and more of me which is obscuring Jesus from being seen clearer and clearer in my life.
As we near the start of 2020, a brand-new year and decade with new possibilities, please join me in allowing Jesus to become greater while we become less. Which, in actuality, really means we become more and more of who we were actually created to be. For the revealing of Jesus is actually the uncovering of a more beautiful, pleasing, real, joyful, and true self.
*For our artists this portrait might be a helpful piece of art. Just saying…