READ: Ecclesiastes 8, John 3, Revelation 19
Jesus is the only one who grows ever stronger; all the rest of us decline. The eternal life we will enjoy is granted to us from the majesty of the Godhead. We participate in it and it becomes fully ours by inheritance, but with no diminishing or death of the giver. If heaven means the eternal increase of God, there must be an attending diminishing of man, our greatness increasingly found in our smallness. We have been groomed to think of heaven as our exaltation. But there can only be One who is exalted–all others must diminish. By nature God cannot technically increase. He has always been who He always will be, so it is our understanding of who God is that grows in awe and wonder. The more we understand the greatness of God, the more we see how small we are in comparison. The diminishing of man does not mean he becomes less valued; it just means man is limited and God is not. As man becomes increasingly aware of who God is, the gap between man and God becomes more evident. God cannot, therefore, increase without man decreasing.
John the Baptist understood this principle well, and thus Jesus considered him the greatest born of women. John said: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). John understood that the rise of Christ necessitates the fall of man. This principle is true especially in mission and ministry. Men and women witness and minister to men and women. There is a natural attraction and trust between persons. This trust, respect, allegiance must be transferred from the agent of reconciliation to the divine Savior. When I am evangelizing or discipling a Muslim (or a team member), there will naturally be an influential role I play for a while. That influence must be transferred to Jesus. Any process of discipleship must include the transfer of trust from being in the minister to being grounded in the Living Lord. As my disciples increasingly learn to trust Jesus and to draw life directly from Him, my influence in their life must and should decrease.
Humanly we struggle with decrease from both sides. As a mentor we want to hold on to the influence we have over our disciples. As a disciple we want the unending comfort of a mentor nearby who can help us in time of need. In Christ’s kingdom, however, all mentors must inevitably decrease over time, and disciples must directly learn how to go to Jesus for everything. Humans like to make heroes and heroes love to be applauded–no matter how much they protest otherwise. But there can only be one hero. The role of all godly men and women must diminish. It is the inevitable ongoing demise of man that is tied to the ascending glory of God.