4 “How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”
5-6 Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.
7-8 “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”
9 Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”
10-12 Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God? — John 3:4-12, MSG
2021 marks a pivot point for us, collectively and personally. On Wed., 21 January 2021, in our nation’s capitol, the nightmarish era of Donald J. Trump ended abruptly and ingloriously. At the same, a new era began on that same date. The Biden-Harris era begins with expectancy and excitement. Perhaps a more restrained way of seeing it would be that on Wed., we breathed a sigh of relief and hoped it represented a return to some semblance of normalcy.
The fact, however, is that some of the old era remains. Not only the almost 75 million hoodwinked followers of Trumpism, but of them, at least half of whom have drunk the kool-aid of prejudice, dogmatism, and paranoia. Despite the start of new administration, what remains is the fear of the browning of America, which is the perceived displacement of white privilege and white power. Hence, the more things change, the more things remain the same.
Who knows what will happen in 2021 – for that matter, over the next four years? Whatever happens; however, it can’t be any worse than hellish and horrific events which unfolded during the Trump-Pence era. “How much better things will be?” Who knows?
What I do know, nonetheless, is that you don’t have to be the same exact person you were at the end of 2020. You can be a better version of yourself. Thankfully, your transformation is not dependent upon who is in the White House nor how well Wall Street performs. Quite the contrary, it’s up to you.
If you want to find the key to changing your life for the better, then it begins with a search for something more, something radically and refreshingly different from aconventional life. You must begin your search for the “abundant life” of which Jesus spoke and into which Jesus invites seekers. Those to whom Jesus made the promise of the abundant life were not persons to whom faith in God was foreign. Even now, Jesus speaks to people who are believers (in God), those who wish to substitute knowledge of God for a real, dynamic, loving relationship with Jesus, who is our Savior and Lord.
Nicodemus, according to Gospel of John (Chapter 3), comes to Jesus at night. He risks his reputation meeting with Jesus, who Nicodemus’ professional peers see as a fraud, a snake-oil salesman. It might not be an exaggeration to suggest Nicodemus’ fellow practitioners and interpreters of Judaism might have deemed Jesus an ancient version of Trump. Despite that, Nicodemus sees in the younger, un-credentialed Jesus from the Ghetto of Nazareth what he himself lacks. What? The answer: A real, personal, and transformative connection with God, who is Lord over the nation and over human nature. He, therefore, humbles himself and asks Jesus, “What must I do to enjoy the abundant life?” Jesus answers, telling him the same paradoxical truth he shares with all who crave a fuller, richer life, “You must be born again!” Truthfully, that sounds as puzzling and intimidating to our 21st Century audience as it must have sounded to Nicodemus. In fact, we ask with Nicodemus, ‘How can we born again?’ In other words, how can we be better at the end of 2021 – no matter what happens?
1. We must hunger for more of God’s gift of Jesus Christ, who desires to give more of himself to those who wish to enjoy the life-change he works through the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. We must be honest and admit we have settled for mere existence, which falls far short of new life God offers to bring to and out of us.
3. We must be humble enough to ask Jesus to help us sample and seek more of the “life that is really life”— to borrow the Apostle John’s profound phrase.
Today’s Take-Away: We can live a better, bigger life if we admit to living beneath our privilege and his power is unacceptable.