Taking the Back Seat on the Bus

Thursday is for Discipleship

My friend John Nunnikhoven quoted this passage (John 3:30) in his comment yesterday. It got me thinking …” (Thanks John)

The bus in which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. Her brave and simple act started a revolution.

Taking the “back seat on the bus” is a sign of maturity when your superior is present. That’s why the civil-rights era saw the requirement for blacks to sit in the back of the bus as so egregious. Whites were and are not blacks superiors. Human beings, all human beings, no matter what their color, ethnicity, culture, educational achievements, economic status or geographic location are all made in the image of God. The bear the divine stamp.

But we Christians are different. Not different “better” or “more valuable,” (certainly not that!). We are different in that we KNOW without any doubt that we live and move and have our being in the constant presence of the God of heaven and earth, who visited our world and indwells us by his Spirit. We are constantly in the presence of a real Superior–someone to whom all deference is owed all the time. Which is why the verse that my friend quoted from the lips of a different John are so appropriate.  Hear the words of John the Baptist:

John answered,
“A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but I have been sent before him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must increase; but I must decrease.” (John 3:27-30)

Lessons for pastors, church planters and the rest of us:

  • Everything we have we have because God gave it to us.
  • We are not our people’s Savior, Jesus is.
  • The flocks that we shepherd belong to the Shepherd, not us.
  • The church is his bride not ours.
  • The friends (his disciples) of the bridegroom are delighted to let the bridegroom have center stage.
  • It is poor taste and disrespectful to upstage the bride and bridegrooms celebration.
  • It is a sign of maturity and humility to take a back seat to Jesus.

Exhortation: Strive to be a sign, pointing to Christ. A sign exists to direct people somewhere else not to itself.

Aside: Good read, Wikipedia on Rosa Parks.

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