“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
The Search for Insignificance, by Randall D. Kittle
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I remember how excited I was to hear the news that my friend’s husband was coming with her to the small group my wife and I were leading on marriage. Only recently had she become a Christian, and not only was her husband not a believer, he was practicing a self-made eastern religion fashioned out of Zen Buddhism. Wanting to be as accepting as possible, I purposed to give him as much leeway as I could: overlooking little comments he might make that seemed anti-Christian, explaining any “christianese” in common terms, and trying to avoid anything overly religious. When the evening finally arrived, he walked in wearing a quiet air of superiority. He interacted with the group in a contemplative manner that reminded me of the stoic philosophers of old. Things went pretty well at first, but as he got more comfortable, I noticed that he began to idealize his philosophy and make it sound more established and superior to what others were sharing — as if he were the final authority. At last, he went into a long monologue testifying of his lengthy search of all forms of religion on his journey to “find himself.” Realizing that his speech could sow the seeds of confusion and doubt into the hearts of the newer believers present, I intervened by declaring, “Christianity isn’t about finding yourself … it’s about getting over yourself.”

Are We Dressed?
This wasn’t just good advice for him (who, in a few weeks, surrendered his heart to the Lord and became a Christian), it is good advice for each of us. In these days, God is bringing a divine emptying to the Church – so we will no longer be “full of ourselves” and can be truly filled by Him.

First
Peter 5:5 declares, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” Again, in James 4:6 the Word of God proclaims, “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” How does God deal with pride? He resists the proud, He opposes the proud, and He brings the pride of men low. The Lord expects believers to take off the prideful garment of self with its self-focus, and put on the garment of humility with its self-forgetfulness. Humility is the only accepted garment we can be clothed in if we want to walk with God.

Since God expects
all believers to put on humility, is there less pride apparent in the lives of Christians than in the people of the world? Unfortunately, I can’t answer a resounding “Yes!” Pride seems to be rampant in the Church. In fact, it seems to be a common, “acceptable sin.” People speak of having pride or struggling with pride as if they are talking about a new watch they have acquired, not something that is a stench in the nostrils of God.

Do we remember that without the Lord we can do nothing (see John 15:5) and that Church is really all about Him? Or, if we were really honest, do we feel like God is very fortunate to have us, and we are vital to His plan to advance His kingdom in our region? While I have never heard anyone actually say either of these, I have met quite a few who obviously believed this was true about themselves. In fact, I have been one who thought these prideful thoughts about myself. When God started moving powerfully in my life, at first I was just amazed at how God could use me to bless others and advance His kingdom. But in a short time, I became puffed up with pride and saw myself as quite amazing.

The Search for Insignificance
That is when the Lord sent me on a new leg of my spiritual journey … the search for insignificance. To move on with God, I had to get over myself. First, He came and deflated my overgrown ego and brought me back to the place of humility. Then, the Lord renewed my mind and helped me get over my self-reliance and learn to be fully reliant on Him so I really believed that without Him I could do nothing of value for His kingdom.

That was a hard lesson to learn in the society we live in where everything is about building up self-esteem, showing others how important and valuable we are, and having everything in our lives just the way we want it. Even in the Church, how often do we hear a message on humility, dying to self, or total dependence upon God? Messages on the importance of who we are in Christ, the power of our words, or what we can do to advance God’s kingdom are everywhere, but the call to empty self and rely only on God are few and far between. Let me ask, do the leadership meetings that set the course for your church sound like a prayer meeting of those who desperately realize their need for God’s direction, or a planning meeting of those who are full of their own good ideas?

Increase from Decrease
When we are full of self — self-opinionated, self-centered, self-seeking, Christ is crowded out. One of the great secrets in the Christian life is decreasing … making room for Christ. John the Baptist was a great example of this. He was one who wanted the glory of God even if it meant he became insignificant. When the crowds began leaving his ministry and following Christ, His response was simply, “He must increase, and I must decrease” (John 3:30). This type of decrease is a decrease that brings increase. In the kingdom of God, it is the secret of sure growth, for it is really making room in our lives for Christ. Our self-importance shrinks, and we grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord.

Godly increase from being willing to decrease also seems to have been the way of the apostle Paul. Here is his secret,
“For to me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). What is that but making room for Christ in everything? And in Galatians 2:20 he states the secret again: “I live, yet not I, Christ lives in me.” For Paul, self decreases almost to the point of extinction; “not I” he says, embracing self-forgetfulness. But the result was “Christ lives in me”; Paul becomes complete in Christ. Our hearts need to resound with the attitude of John the Baptist and the aspiration we saw in Paul: Jesus Christ, grow in me … and all else recede.

From Natural to Supernatural
In these days, the Lord is calling all who will listen to join the search for insignificance — taking them on a journey where they will come to the end of themselves. God has so much more for them — more to do, more to experience, more to become — but they need to empty themselves to receive it.

When Jesus truly calls you to a task it will be beyond you — something beyond what
you could possibly do without His supernatural intervention. That’s how it was with the feeding of the 5,000. The disciples’ solution to the hungry crowd was “let us send them away,” but Jesus’ instruction was “you feed them.” Looking at each other and the circumstances the disciples instantly knew the situation was way beyond their abilities.

This, too, is the how the Lord will deal with us in the days ahead. He would not accept the disciples’ earthly answer to send the crowd away, and He won’t settle for our earthly solutions either. The Lord wants us to come to the end of ourselves and simply give Him what we have and then, in child-like faith, let Him be the answer. He longs for you and me to realize that truly advancing the kingdom of God is beyond our natural abilities — it must be Him!

Faith is not about doing the possible, for we can do that with planning, effort, and determination. Faith is believing the unbelievable, knowing the unknowable, and doing the impossible! Most of the memorable things I have done for God have happened when I was at the end of myself — unable to do what I felt God called me to — but then I chose to believe God … and not my fear or the doubts of others. It is only when we are faced with what others may consider a “mission impossible” that we truly step into the realm of the supernatural.

When you feel God has called you to something beyond yourself, remember what Jesus said in Matthew 19:26,
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

God has great things for all of us to accomplish for His kingdom in the days ahead. He will perform these feats through us no because of our abilities, but through our empty yieldedness to Him. God is calling each of us to get over ourselves and begin to look fully to Him. We need this now, today, and every day, not just when we’re at the end of our ropes. Will you allow the Lord to take you beyond your natural limits, and in simple faith believe the Lord can and will supernaturally do through you more than you could possibly imagine?

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