“He must increase, but I must decrease.” -John 3:30
The context surrounding this passage is very important and provides a better understanding of why John the Baptist said it. Some of John’s disciples came to him and were worried and even upset that He was losing some of his followers because Jesus was rising in popularity.
In John 3:26, John’s disciples said, “All are coming to Him.”
John was baptizing many people but so was Jesus, and John’s disciples didn’t want John to lose his influence to this new Rabbi. It was then that John said these powerful words, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
The culture we live in is one where everyone wants to increase. The result of this is that Christ becomes ever decreasing in their desires.
People want to be known and recognized. We are constantly trying to increase our social status to a higher platform so that people will think more highly of us. This self-centered mentality is by no means new, but has significantly risen with the tide of social media.
In 2013, the Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year Award was given to the word “selfie!” 55% of all social media users have posted a selfie. The #selfie is the 14th most used hashtag and has over 322 million tags on Instagram alone. The #me is the 13th most popular hashtag with over 336 million tags.
Now don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong or sinful with social media itself (or selfies), but it can easily become a gateway that is used to feed your self-centered desires.
Follow me. Like me. Friend me.
The reason so many people in our generation are so entertained by social media is because it makes them feel more significant. People feel great about themselves when people “follow” them or “friend” them (even though in real life some of those people would never actually be your friend or follow you).
This mindset then places pressure on you to only post cool pictures or funny videos, with the desire to make your friends and followers all happy and to gain more of them.
The problem with this is that when your followers aren’t happy, you’re not happy. People become depressed when their Instagram photo doesn’t get as many likes as they thought it would, or when their Snapchat story doesn’t get as many views or screenshots as they hoped for, or their tweet doesn’t get as many favorites or retweets as they expected, or their Facebook posts don’t really get much recognition.
Our true purpose
For many people, social media is all about themselves. Everyone wants more followers, more favorites, and more views. Yet no matter how many likes they get, they will never be satisfied. This is because the purpose of our lives is not to draw people to ourselves but to point them to Jesus! The desire for an increase of followers and friends will never be satisfied unless our central desire is to point them to Christ.
I must decrease
John’s statement, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” is so countercultural. John wasn’t upset when he started loosing followers but rather rejoiced that they were following Jesus!
How many people do you know who rejoice when they lose followers? Honestly I can’t think of many. Maybe the reason for this is because we have gotten so caught up in trying to show people how great we are that we have lost sight of how great Jesus is.
I want to challenge us to consider how we can magnify Christ with the social media platforms He has given us.
I am evaluating myself and praying that God would show me how I can use my platforms—not to increase my own following, but to magnify Christ! The challenge is going to be difficult, if you are willing to take it on, but I know that taking this step of faith and saying, “It’s not about me,” is going to bring much glory to Christ.
In our social media and every area of our lives may we pray, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Author: Xavier Brasseur