April 18, 2017

The Greatest Conversation

Dear Friends,

This last week, we looked at one of the most powerful conversations ever recorded.  In the Kingdom of Christ, we often pass over it and miss so much - because of the familiarity we have with a few key verses that have become Christianese mantras or slogans.

In the third chapter of John, we have an opportunity to witness probably the most significant struggle that one of the greatest thinkers and teachers in Israel ever had to face.  This is so exciting to me, because, truly, this man (Nicodemus) represents most of us today.  The conversation he has with the Creator of the Universe leads him to an earth shattering crisis of faith.  The final words that Jesus gives him are not words of condemnation, but words of revelation.  It behooves us to slow down and listen to them well outside of our 21st century mindset.  It is too in depth to go into here, but if you would like to listen to the sermon, you may listen to it here.

Here's the list though.  Jesus tells Nicodemus that none of his life's work, efforts, studies, and expertise in the Word are good enough for him to see the Kingdom of Touch less get into it.  He has the Word, good for Him, but He doesn't have the Spirit.  He is an expert teacher of the Word, but he doesn't have the ability to see the Kingdom of God manifest from the teachings of the Word, because he is not born of the Spirit.  Every thing he has is born of the flesh (man made attempts and accomplishments).  But that won't allow him to see what he needs to see in order to get from the Word what he needs - eternal life!

A man that has prided himself on following hard after God his whole life and earnestly holding to the regulations, rituals, and traditions handed down from Moses, has just been told none of that is good enough.  "How can these things be?" is not a casual remark of momentary shock.  It is a world crashing, life altering shift in perspective that shakes a very proud and accomplished man to his core.

Maybe that is what we need to see a little more of today.  Many of us have the Word, but we don't have the Spirit, and therefore, we can't see the Kingdom of God in the Word as we strive to impress it's weight on others so that they look like what we think they need to look like.

Jesus's final words at the end of this conversation to Nicodemus are, "This is the verdict, Light has come into the world, but the world has loved the darkness."  That is the crux of the issue for us.  Jesus isn't using the word darkness to mean, "evil".  That doesn't fit into the context of the rest of the conversation, or the rest of the narrative that we have seen since the opening of the Gospel of John!

Jesus is saying that men love the blind empty ways that have become comfortable and familiar to them, even though they don't ease the pain or lift the burden.  Light has come.  The verdict is not a condemnation.  It is not the judgement.  It is a statement of what Jesus has found.  His assessment is that, He has a testimony that is not accepted by those who should recognize it (he says as much in the conversation) because they love their ways and their philosophies.

We need to hear this today.  We can be just as proud and obstinate thinking that we know what we are doing.  Our way of doing things in the Body of Christ is "time tested" and authentic.  But maybe the message of Jesus to Nicodemus can be heard again today in the midst of so much theological clamor, but very little apparent Spirit.  If the Kingdom we are a part of looks very like the world we claim to have distinguished ourselves from, then maybe we aren't really seeing the Kingdom of God in action!  How can these things be?

Food for thought...I hope.

With you for His glory,