Wednesday Word 3.22.2017
John 3:1-17 New International Version (NIV)
3 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” 3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” 4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” 5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” 9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. 10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
The concept of being born again does not belong exclusively to one denomination or the other, although we sometimes make that association. The idea appears in so many places in the New Testament. We are to be made new in Christ’s image. We are to come before God as child would: open, trusting, loving, ready to learn. When a baby comes into the world it is completely helpless. A baby must rely on its parents for nourishment and protection. It cannot survive on its own. We are meant to make ourselves like newborns who must have the love of God to nourish, guide and protect us. Without God, we would just be going through the motions.
Throughout the Gospels, we are told we must learn to surrender our will in exchange for the will of God. He gave us free will to think and choose. It is a ponderous gift. It enables us to become the men and women God intends us to be. Otherwise, we would just be more beasts in the field. God wants so much more for us. But, free will also enables us to stray far away from him. We must acknowledge the magnitude of the gift and then lay it right back at God’s feet. That’s where it gets hard.
It isn’t hard to surrender when you feel that all is lost and you are at the lowest point. We cry out for God to save us. Any child would do that. It is the rest of the time when we try to claim sovereignty over our world and exert our own will that is problematic. Right about then is when I find myself butting my head against a brick wall. Eventually, I realize why things aren’t working. It takes concerted effort and practice to ask God, let God, wait for God, trust God. Saying we love and worship him on Sunday isn’t the same thing as confessing that without his grace and mercy, we are “like flowers of the field” (Isaiah 39:6-8). Our lives would come and go without meaning, withering and blowing away to dust. It is the God within us that brings meaning and value to our days; not our will, but his. Something to pray about.
Your sister in Christ, Vicki