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Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Insights for Lent

Last Sunday after church, I led a lesson on the story in John 3 about Nicodemus. As I prepared, I realized that there was a whole series of stories with part of the message being not to take His teachings literally. Nicodemus is the first in this part of the Bible.

He wants to know how he can go back into his mother's womb to be born once again. Jesus, possibly exasperated yet patient, explains he speaks of a birth from above, a birth of Spirit within the person.

Of course, to hold this conversation, Nicodemus came in cover of darkness, at night. You might say, sneaking in to speak with Jesus. Have you ever been somewhere out in the country to true darkness? Before electricity had been discovered, night was very dark. I asked everyone if they had ever snuck in the darkness to Jesus. Some said around atheists and agnostics because they didn't want to fight. Some said around evangelicals because they are combative about theirs being the only way to understand God, Jesus, Holy Spirit and the Bible.

Get out your Bible (I was using the New Jerusalem version ). Start with John 3 and see how many times Jesus explains he didn't mean what he said literally. He was speaking in metaphor, analogy and parable.

Then I thought about how Jesus had told us not to judge by appearances, but judge righteous judgment. It seems that he was constantly surrounded by people who were judging by appearances, including his disciples. He even complained that some come only for the loaves and fishes.

I think it was/is hard to fathom this new understanding of which He spoke and was/is. After the resurrection, some of them began to get it. Now they could see with new eyes, beyond where they had been able to see beforehand. They testified dramatically to what they now knew and tried to share it so everyone could understand.

2,000 years later, we are split about it: numerous denominations, heated arguments, accusations, attacks, etc. Supposedly Christians are trying to follow Christ in their living, but what some do does not seem to reflect the man from Galilee.

So, let's ask ourselves some tough questions: Does my life reflect Christ? If others watched how I live, would they see a Christlike life? When do I come to Christ under the cover of darkness? Do I sometimes judge by appearances?

I lift my life into the arms of Christ. Help me to live a life that reflects You. Lead me to be loving, forgiving, healing, accepting of others, and aware of being at one with God as You are. Help me look at Your life as an example of how I am to live. Help me welcome my brothers and sisters, even the lowest, for You showed me this is my calling, if I am to truly  follow You. Help me to be a beneficial presence wherever I find myself. Help me to shine Your Light in every corner of life. Take from me my unbelief and fill me with Your vigor and faith. Help me live my life so that when we meet on the other side, I can hear the words, "Well done good and faithful servant." I ask this in Your name. Amen, Amen & Amen

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