“How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.
Yesterday at church, Pastor Dean had the best paraphrase for Nicodemus’ statement, “How are these things possible?” = “This sounds weird.” Good and accurate translation, Dad!
This is what sounds weird:
Jesus told Nicodemus, Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.
You must be born again just sounds weird. But the reason it sounds weird is because all we have is human understanding; it is our default setting and the first thing our brains have access to.
Here’s something else that sounds weird too.
1 Thessalonians 4:17-18
Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words. Encourage other Believers with these words because to an unbeliever this sounds like crazy talk.
Caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air? That’s not normal. I’m thankful that when this actually does happen I won’t be on earth to see what people think about this, but I bet they won’t give credit to the Lord. Instead they’ll give credit to the one who invented the idea of alien invasion and prove their theories true. Why not? Over the years, science fiction ideas have slowly become realities: cel phones, skype, body scans, computers... all things that used to be imaginary now realities.
Also weird (from John 6:53)
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you.” In fact, the response from many of his followers was, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it (v.60)?” And then many of them took off. Translation? This sounds weird.
There’s lots more weird verses in the Bible that Christians like to keep under raps until they’ve ‘roped’ somebody in. I used to panic when I’d invite a friend to church for the first time and it happened to be communion Sunday, or a message about the rapture or submission. Let’s just sell the love and forgiveness first, Mr. Pastor, and then break out the weird stuff.
Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit... or anything else that is spiritual. That’s just it; it’s not for me to explain the rapture or communion or anything else. It is for the seeker to experience; it is for them to believe for themselves. God does that through his Holy Spirit. Humans, being control freaks by nature, can’t stand this. We want to know, understand every bit, and be certain before we jump on board.
Dean concluded his message by encouraging us to just be faithful to share. He shared his own experience about sharing what the phrase “born again” means to his own mom one day. It didn’t seem to affect her much at all, but he did it anyway.
Likewise, I shouldn’t worry what the message will be on a Sunday, I should just be inviting people no matter what. The neat thing about things that sound weird is that it gives people something to think about, ponder, and research.
When I’m channel surfing on tv and see something strange on TLC or something coming on next, I tune in out of curiosity. What if an unbeliever hears about the rapture, communion, or being born again just enough that it makes them curious and check it out for themselves? I’m not going to be frustrated or embarrassed that I can’t explain some elements of the Good News. But I am going to just believe and repeat.
I thank you for appealing to our curiosity with weird spiritual things. But I thank you even more that even though I can’t explain how your Holy Spirit works at all, I have experienced it, and that is the proof! I pray for my dear family and friends who are still trying to find proof without experience because they are trapped in their own human understanding. Help them (specifically Jim and Steve) to let go of what they believe to be control and just believe in you with all their hearts. I love you and pray in Jesus’ name, amen.