First United Methodist Church

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News & Devotions

Devotion from Pastor Rachel (Nov. 12)

I don’t know about you, but music has always been my time machine. When I listen to music, it often evokes a memory, a moment, a story from my past that takes me back. It was that same experience that I had on Monday morning, waiting in the service line at the Car Dealership for maintenance. Mondays are my day off and so after taking the kids to school, I took the car in for an oil change. I was 10 minutes early (which is a rare thing, for me) and drove in line behind everyone else. At first, I was listening to NPR and catching up on the weekend’s news, but then I suddenly had an inclination to listen to some music from my past.

There was a band that basically got me through my college years called Shane and Shane. I was first introduced to them in my Senior year of High School, listened to them every summer at Warren Willis camp, and used them a lot for the Interpretative Moment skill for Campers. I was blown away to see them perform live and hear their faith story, and then I promptly bought several, if not all of their CDs and was determined to learn not only the melody but selective harmony parts for most of their songs. One song in particular, called The Answer, has the ability to move me to tears every time I worship to it. Monday was no exception, so yes, I was that girl, in a drive-up line for an oil change, just jamming out to Jesus music with the windows up. Here are the words of the part of the song that moved me so intensely that I had to share them with you.

I’ve tried more of me
And I come up dry
Trading you for things
Things that go away

My happiness is found in less of me
And more of you
My happiness is found in less of me
And more

I have found the answer is to love you
And be loved by you alone
You crucify me and the world to me
And I will only boast in you

Often times, the lyrics to these Shane and Shane songs are taken straight from Scripture. More of you and less of me is a theological truth articulated across both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament and it reminds us that God must increase and we must decrease. One particular Scripture found in John 3 shares the tense exchange between John the Baptist and his disciples when they see Jesus over on the other side of the Jordan River also baptizing. The jealousy grows in the hearts of John’s disciples because Jesus has more people on his side than they did. Here is how John the Baptist responds to them:

“30 He must become greater; I must become less.” 31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful.”                             John 3:30-33

Not that the number of people you baptize in a month should ever be a competition, but these disciples get a firm talking to because they have made religion about worldly things. They have turned religion into the numbers game and have missed the point. In John’s response, it seems at first that he is stating the obvious; Jesus is from above and John is from the earth. This is something they can all agree with. But then John, the teacher, the prophet humbly bows down and steps back. As he decreases, Jesus increases. As John makes it less about himself, then God, through Jesus can become more.

This Shane and Shane song that I worshipped to on Monday morning reminded me that I too must decrease so that God can increase in my life. That the earthly standards with which I normally judge my worth and significance matter, not in the Kingdom of God. I don’t know what in your life has become greater in these uncertain days. Maybe it has been worry, pride, diminishing health, broken family dynamics, doubts about your faith, anxiety over finances, lack of patience, bitterness, or a fear about tomorrow. Whatever it might be, would you consider with me today what needs to be decreased so that God can live through your weakness and burst forth in a way that only God can? Are you contented to have less of you and more of God in your daily schedule, thoughts, and actions? Are you ready to spend less time worrying and more time being loved on by God this week? I pray that as you and I decrease, God, through the power of the Holy Spirit may increase in our lives, in our church and in this world that so desperately needs to know that they are loved and set free!