The Honourable Fallen
It never feels good to be put to one side. John the Baptist could not have been very happy to be thrown into jail by an angry king who refused to repent when John reproved his immorality (Mark 6:17-18). Sometimes the next phase of God's work requires that you should be moved off the stage so that Jesus, or another one of His servants, can move into your place. That is not to denigrate your part; it merely clarifies that you are only a supporting actor and it is Jesus who has the lead role. If John had stayed around it might appear that Jesus was his disciple, instead of the other way around. As it was, John was 'put in' prison. The original word means 'handed over' or 'delivered up' – the same word as was used for Jesus' betrayal by Judas (Mark 3:19). John had been betrayed, persecuted and was later executed; but he had done his job in calling the nation to repent and introducing Jesus to the world.
Today there are too many wannabe Christian 'stars'. That is not God's idea. Jesus and His team did not entertain rebellious people with "The Prince of Peace" at some spiritual variety show. The theatre is the theatre of war in a time of spiritual darkness, and the weapon is the sword of truth (Ephesians 6:17). The gospel therefore puts the church onto a war-footing for a conflict more vital than any physical military campaign. As the territory is taken so the scouts, pathfinders and shock troops give way to the wider offensive. If foot soldiers fall, they do so with honour knowing that others can continue the advance.
John preached repentance (Mark 1:4) and so did Jesus. But the message had a new urgency. God's kingdom had already come very close to them. The King was calling them to His side. His arrival, prophesied through the Old Testament, had come (Isaiah 9:6-7). It was time to believe in Jesus, the Light of the World (John 8:12). The gospel message is still unchanged and has a fresh daily urgency. Applying Psalm 95:7 to the contemporary church, Hebrews 3:7-15 says, "The Holy Spirit says, 'If you hear His voice today, do not let your hearts become hard …'" The messenger may change but the message is the same.
So, do not be perplexed by the changes in your life - the Lord knows! Your change in circumstances does not necessarily mean that you have failed; it may well mean that you have done as much as the Lord wants you to do. It is time to move on to allow space for a fresh voice with the same message. The Lord is, even now, allowing and arranging to maximise the effect of the gospel in and around the lives of people you know. Do not be disturbed by disturbance - the Lord Jesus is on the move, and although your part may be less prominent than before, or in a different place, He knows that He will win the hearts and minds of many.
© Dr Paul Adams