Distracting Fireworks

There’s something about fireworks that just mesmerizes me. This last July 4th, we watched fireworks over Tichigan Lake with some friends.

I love the fact that the conversations of adults and the activity of kids is tamed down to ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ at the show before us. I love it when a resonant boom echoes across the terrain to take my breath away. I love it when the spreading firework explosion steadily crackles down to earth.

But there was also something that I found particularly annoying as we watched the fireworks this year. Even as the main show was going on, people around the neighborhood were occasionally continuing to launch their own fireworks that would go off at closer range than those that were the main attraction. I don’t mind it when people are doing all sorts of other things before the fireworks start, but I found these other fireworks to be just plain distracting.

As I watched these neighbors incessantly launch off their wimpy fireworks in front of the larger show, I couldn’t help but think about two things. The first is that we all want to be a part of something that is bigger than us. Even though this professional show was going on in the background, these folks launching their Roman candles and bottle rockets in front of us were echoing something we all feel. We all want to be a part of what’s happening. When something big is happening, that desire only grows. There’s not really anything wrong with this in itself.

But it is the second thought where we run into problems. You see, as I was sitting on the blanket watching these fireworks going off, I couldn’t help but think that I was watching a competition. Everyone in the park was there to see the show being put on by the professionals that was breath-taking and awe-inspiring. But these other guys just wouldn’t let  us do that. They were getting in the way. They were taking away from the main thing. There is something wrong with that.

It made me think of John the Baptist. Work with me for a minute. Here is John the Baptist standing by the river and hundreds of people are coming out to be baptized by him. This is a real religious movement, and it seems like John is the main attraction.

But when Jesus comes on the scene it becomes pretty evident that John is not the main attraction. He is just the pre-show warm-up. Jesus is the main attraction. John describes his relationship to Jesus this way: “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30).

John is an excellent picture for us as followers of Jesus. He helps us remember that we are not the main attraction. Jesus is the main attraction.

So, when we’re tempted to keep lighting off our fireworks in life, we need to beware of becoming distracting. People don’t need to see our Roman candles and bottle rockets. They need to experience the deafening booms and earth-shattering explosions of God.

He must become greater. We must become less.

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