John 12:27-33 – “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” 29 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” 30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.” NKJV
It has long been a thorny issue for me observing and hearing ministers and ministries lifting up something other than Christ and Him crucified to the world. Jesus did not say, “If you lift up your ministry, your marketing, your functions or services people will be drawn”, although they may well be drawn to you and what you are doing. The drawing will not be eternally redemptive but will link them to you, your ideology, philosophy or personality rather than bring them into the presence of the Savior and thereby bring them through the Door of Salvation.
The issue is not attracting a crowd but bringing them into the presence of the Savior! The issue is not having a large church but bringing people to the place of redemption so that their sins are forgiven, lives changed and their names in the Book of Life. Having a large crowd or church is not negative but it is about HIM not our egos or elevation to prominence or view of success. The disciples were focused on the singularity of their purpose rather than the development and growing of their ministries or churches. They wanted to introduce people to the ONE who had paid the price for their redemption and provided the ONLY access to the Father. As John the Baptist declared in John 3:30 – “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John understood that he was simply a voice or messenger. He was a sign post on the highway of life pointing to the entrance ramp of eternity.
Paul grasped this truth as he spoke in 2 Corinthians 4 saying, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” NKJV
Jesus gave the disciples and all who would come afterward a commission in Matthew 28 as He instructed them regarding His authority and delegation to them the authority and power to perform the task set before them. That task was to take the ‘Good News’ to the entire world and in so doing to LIFT HIM UP so that people could receive the redemption and be born again into the newness of life. The writer of Proverbs warned in Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction…”
I have had the pleasure of hearing and working with some men and women who are incredible orators with magnetic personalities that naturally drew people to them. I rejoice in their gift and talents UNLESS or UNTIL they become focused on ‘self’ more than ‘self-effacing’. Through the years I have had people tell me, “We will follow you anywhere” and I always stopped them saying, “Do not follow me except as I follow Christ.” NEVER make me the focus of your loyalty and if I ministered to a congregation and their focus became me I felt I had failed for if I have not solidly linked them to Christ they foundation is shifting sand and they will fail. If, however, I have successfully helped them to become focused on Him and rooted in biblical principles they will be like the house built upon the rock and will weather the storms of life.
The question is and has always been, “What or Who are we lifting up?” I urge you to examine your purpose, message, ministry, and focus. Whatever you do make it about HIM not about you or anything else. If it is all about HIM He will draw people to Himself and in so doing the church will progress, grow and become strong and a light shining into darkness.
God bless you as you go through this day!