The Dean’s Corner
A New Way of Seeing Things
On August 1, Trinity will be welcoming two new souls into the body of Christ through the mystery of the Sacrament of Baptism. Preparing for this service has me thinking about how you and I had little to do with being born. We can assume that Nicodemus knows this. So when we read John 2:23-3:15, we can sense his astonishment at Jesus’ words, “You must be born.”
“Be” is the operative word here, isn’t it? After all, who can control their birth? No one. Jesus knows this. But what Jesus knows and what Nicodemus knows are quite different. Nicodemus knows how to take control. He probably had a say in his education, and in his appointment as a religious leader. He likely knows how to control the opportunities of his earthly life. So when he comes to Jesus, he asks him questions about the spiritual life that seek no real answers because they assume Nicodemus has a say in how they play out.
Have you ever approached Jesus this way? Seeking specific answers to your life’s mysteries? Jesus does not give Nicodemus the answers that he seeks because Jesus did not live his life as Nicodemus did. Jesus did not try to take control of his earthly existence, but rather emptied himself of control. Jesus’ words about being born make space for a new way of seeing things. Jesus knows that one must be born by someone else, and that the spiritual life can only be born by God.
Are you willing to be like these young children preparing for baptism and be born, again? Do not let your experienced and educated mind fool you as it did Nicodemus. To be born of God is to release your own sense of control. You cannot determine where or when or even if you will be spiritually born. All you can know is what Jesus tells you – that it must happen.
“You must be born again,” and perhaps again even after that. As human beings we may need to be born over and over because we are plagued by the same stubborn nature as Nicodemus. We may have to learn again and again just how little control we really have over our own lives, except to give up our false sense of control to the God who will birth us over and over again into new life, because of love (John 3:16).