John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” John 1:23
Pogo was a comic strip character that first came into print in 1943 and continued for another 26 years. Draw by Walt Kelley, Pogo was Kelly’s way of offering social and political commentary on the issues of the day. One of Pogo’s most famous lines reveals a level of self-awareness that is sadly lacking in our day. The line is this: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
Indeed it is us. But most of us don’t see it that way. The enemy in our minds is always somebody else. It’s our spouse, our boss, our neighbor, some political figure, some somebody, not us. As a result, finger pointing and avoiding responsibility have become art forms in our world.
Why is this? I think it has much to do with our need to promote our own grandiosity. We want to look important in the eyes of others. We are addicted to the accolades that come from those who admire us and are threatened by anything or anyone who might lessen our significance.
John the Baptist shows us a refreshing difference. At one point in his ministry, John was getting quite a following. At one point some people thought he might be a prophet like Elijah or even the Messiah. It would have been heady stuff for most people. But not John. When asked who he was, he simply said, “I am the voice.” It was a voice pointing to another who was greater than he, namely Jesus, the lamb of God.
John could have viewed Jesus as the enemy, but John knew enough to get out of his own way. It never was about John. It was always about Jesus. And here’s the thing. Later Jesus offered an amazing assessment of John when he said that there was none greater. And yet even then, the least in the Kingdom is greater than that. Why? Because they are benefactors of the grace of God which elevates us to our true significance.
So rather than scraping and clawing to advance our own cause, we have the opportunity to get out of our own way. In so doing, we will not only become a voice pointing others to Christ, but we will also be numbered among those who are the greatest.