Today is Good Friday, good because this is a celebration of what Jesus has done for sinners. We deserve death and eternal separation from God. He took the former so that we do not need to experience that eternal dying. Instead, He offers us everlasting life.
Three or so years before the crucifixion, Jesus’ cousin John proclaimed that the Christ had come. He spent his short life pointing to Jesus and was eventually beheaded by those who resisted his message of repentance. Then, when Jesus began His public ministry, some thought john should be jealous, but he was not. Instead, he said:
You yourselves bear me witness that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:28–30)
John was a godly man, good and pure of life, but he didn’t try to attract attention to himself. He wanted people to be drawn to Jesus.
Chambers says that true holiness is like that. If holiness draws attention to itself, then it becomes an influence that takes people on a detour from their journey to Jesus. Chambers says, “A beautiful saint may be a hindrance if he does not present Jesus Christ but only what Christ has done for him. He will leave the impression—‘What a fine character that man is!’—that is not being a true friend of the Bridegroom; I am increasing all the time, He is not.”
This is a great danger. Our basic sin is a prideful view of self that leads me to trust me instead of Jesus. If I fail to trust and obey Him, then others will surely stumble. However, if I am trusting Him and keeping my mouth shut about who I am trusting, I can expect some will credit me with goodness instead of giving glory to the One to whom it belongs.
As Chambers says, sometimes there is nothing to obey. When this is the case, I must maintain a vital connection with Jesus and not let anything interfere with precious relationship. The greater part of life is not conscious obedience but staying close to Jesus — being the friend of the Bridegroom.
Some Christians get involved in church activities and other good works in order to avoid that full concentration on Jesus Christ. If I am not continuing to cultivate my relationship with Jesus, I could become an “amateur providence” working against Him – even being unaware of it.
This horrifies me. In the first place, I cannot see myself as being holy and having others misinterpret the source of that goodness. Even if it were so, it strikes me as the worst kind of pride.
No matter what I may appear to others, in my heart all I can think is “God be merciful to me, a sinner” and trust Him to use me as a pointer and not the point. No matter what I do, I have set anyone free from sin by being crucified on Calvary, and then buried and resurrected from the dead. Only Jesus, only Jesus.