There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. -John 1:6,8
One of the things I love best about John the Baptist (who I generally refer to as "J the B") is how in almost every painting you see of him, he's pointing away from himself. - even when portrayed as a child, as in the Reynolds painting, above. "He must increase, I must decrease," J the B is quoted in the third chapter of the gospel of John. John is always portrayed as possessing a lifelong quality of humility. To me, he is the ultimate example of someone who is 'right sized.' He knows that God is God and he himself is not God.
It may seem obvious that we are not God, but it also seems to be a human tendency to want to be at the center of the universe. One's own wants, opinions and tastes tend to take center stage in our lives. It is truly a spiritual discipline to step out of the center, and humbly recognize that God is the one who is in charge.
J the B knew he was not the light, but that he was meant to testify to the light. In this, he is a model for all of us as followers of Jesus, because we, too, are called to point to the light in everything we do or say, rather than pointing at ourselves or at the darkness.
Consider this simple practice. Whenever you are tempted to be critical about something or someone, look hard to find something commendable in the situation at hand and highlight that instead. This is not always easy! Sometimes it is a real stretch to point to the light when things seem really shady. But people who point to the light can often help everyone find their way out of the darkness, while those who like to shine their own opinions like a beacon tend to just create more shadows.
It's the third Sunday of advent already! How quickly fly the days. I hope you can join us as we together turn our faces toward the light in worship together this Sunday.