Nic at Night & Daytime John: Reflections on John 3

Posted: 01/28/2011 in John's Gospel

Know God – Live Biblically – Bless Others

KG: Jesus teaches Nicodemus about something radical about being right with God – more radical than most religious people and “good people” grasp.  To be granted entrance into God’s kingdom (a euphemism that does not merely refer to the great by and by in the sky when you die…), it is not enough to be good or religious.  The enormous degree of separation and alienation between God and man is greater than we realize.  On the heels of a great compliment from a very religious man, Jesus drops the hammer: praising God (when nobody’s watching) and even being outwardly religious is not enough.  We are so far from God in our sinful condition that nothing less radical than a new birth is sufficient for us to see God’s kingdom.  Furthermore, the ability to gain entrance into God’s kingdom is a work of God’s Spirit.  We can no more accomplish this new birth any more than we chose to accomplish our natural birth.  How can the truly born-again ever justify spiritual pride toward others over an experience for which only God can truly claim credit?  The terms water and Spirit – an analogy to hearing the wind… our new birth, though a work of the Holy Spirit will indeed have outward evidence.  How can it not?  The Spirit of God is at work, making a new creation.  As deeply thankful as I am for the profound and discernible Spirit-realities that occurred when I was water baptized in the name of Jesus Christ – and when I received the gift of the Holy Spirit like the Apostles in Acts 2 (which occurred in my apartment 20 years ago tomorrow) – I remain a work of the Spirit in progress.  Lord-Creator-Dad, I pray, continue Thy work of new creation in me that I may more resemble you and understand and attain great reward – more knowledge of You, both now and throughout eternity.

LB:  Key verses: 20-21. “For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed.  But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God.” Even as the church has become somewhat confused on how we should live in order to please God, He evidently has a way of determining whether or not one practices evil deeds or practices truth.  Evil deeds cloaked in (false) claims of Christian liberty hate the light.  Likewise, evil deeds cloaked by unbiblical religiosity hate the light.  I know, as I have stumbled down both dead-end alleys along my Christian journey.  More dead-ends still flank the narrow path.  Who wants their thinking challenged when it comes to behaviors in which we have invested so much emotion?  Such thought-confrontation takes a manly courage that few of us prefer.  To the falsely-liberated, this confrontation is met with apathy and mockery.  To the falsely-pious, this confrontation is met with fear and anger.  Pilgrims of truth must remain in search of more light (without forfeiting the light already possessed), and be prepared to walk in it.  Not in search of a “new revelation,” but of a more perfect understanding of the ancient revelation – illuminated – and the grace needed to live it consistently, fearlessly, and in love.  The practicioners of truth and lovers of light are given a promise: a lifestyle that has plain evidence of God’s approval.  O God, let me so live.  Forgive me for the times along the journey in which I recoiled from the light, lusting for false liberty or false piety.  May I ever practice truth. Amen.

BO: John the Baptist provides an example of blessing others as a model who lived righteously, preached truth, and ensured that Christ’s importance in his followers’ lives grew while his importance in their lives diminished.  Nobody wants to feel insignificant.  Few want to give up the admiration of others.  Fewer still relinquish influence in others’ lives once it has been entrusted to them.  As John prepared His disciples for Jesus’ coming and then relinquished his role to ensure that they grew up to be Christ-followers, may we do likewise with any whom we minister, beginning with our children and extending to others we disciple.  May we prepare the way of the Lord, then get out of His way.  May God reveal Himself so thoroughly to others through our serving that they will wholeheartedly follow Him.  Then we must become become less important while He becomes more important.  Then we start afresh to prepare more disciples for Christ’s coming.  To bless others most often requires that we decrease while He increases.

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