We live each day believing things we have never proven. Empirical proof helps us validate what we should and shouldn’t believe, but sometimes cold hard facts just are not available. Even when we don’t have solid proof, however, we still tend to extend our belief to include certain phenomenon. Such things as believing a single cell that lacks the capacity to reason can evolve itself into complex entities. Or how about the notion of astrology by which people have been making major life decisions without any real proof that the way the planets and stars are aligned will actually shape a person. If we can believe such things as these, why is so hard to believe our God created us to know His love and accept the Spirits work to renew our lives in a way that makes it possible for us to participate in perfect love?
Jesus responds to Nicodemus’ confusion to this by saying, “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” No one questions the winds existence or capacities. We can draw all the charts and diagrams we wish, but still cannot explain the winds origin or its destination. The same can be said of gravity and love, and for that matter, the law of non contradiction as well. When asked to define what each concept is, we provide examples and formulas and not actual definitions. Not knowing the origin or destination of any of these things though, does not lead us to reject their existence; nor should we reject God’s redemptive work of sanctification by the Spirit, yet we do at our own peril.
Nicodemus continues in his negative bias and replies, “How are these things possible?” to which Jesus replies, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?” (John 3:8-12) Remember Nicodemus came to Jesus because he has questions about Heavenly things. He knows Jesus has to have ‘come from God as a teacher; because no one can do the things Jesus has done unless God is with them.’ (v.2) This Truth is clashing with Nicodemus’ bias narrative of what he believed truth to be. Jesus points out that his struggle is not with ‘the Truth’, but with his own unsubstantiated beliefs. To overcome this conflict he must be ‘reborn’ through the cleansing of the ‘his old narrative’ and his thinking made ‘new’ through submitting to the Spirits guidance and counsel based on God’s Word.
Renewing the way we think is not easy, for it requires us to let go of our willful desire for autonomy and place our entire lives – mind, body, and soul into the care of another. We are only able to do that with someone we trust; and this is why God has patiently displayed His faithful loving-kindness from the beginning, continuously revealing Himself to us. This is what Nicodemus is referring to when he says, ‘we know you have come from God. We know what God is like from His dealings with His people, and you are just like Him!’
Having pointed Nicodemus to the crux of the problem, Jesus puts the ball back in Nicodemus’ court, just as it is in yours… the question now is, ‘are you going to believe what you already know is true; or are you going to hold on to your unsubstantiated bias narrative, and in so doing, choose hell over eternity with our Heavenly Father?’
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”
Praying 4 U
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.
Think About This: “Nothing is ever wasted on the Lord.” – Watchman Nee