John 3:1-8 New International Version (NIV):
3 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Last week I was asked for a brief teaching in our local congregation, and would like to share it with you. It is about the way Christians have a tendency to divide themselves. Now perhaps i am wrong, but my impression is that a majority of believers amongst Christianity value or rate people within their own community's with an almost superficial casualty, polarizing the differences rather than rejoycing in the common ground. This being said, i fear we all take the essencial meaning of this bible passage for granted, regardless whatever “Christian” spectrum we want to place ourselves in.
A child birth is tough. Really tough. I have witnessed it two times when my daughters were born, and it really was something else. Being born must be very upsetting, both for the child and the mother. It is hard work, it is bloody, it is mentally stressing out, physically painful, and almost a mission impossible when facing it.
Huge forces of nature are involved to be able to push new life forward with every muscle present from the safe and peaceful mother womb into this world. And yet it is this allegory Christ puts before Nicodemus.
Inevitable, the child has to be born. There is no way back. It is appearing from the third month or so, gradually growing and showing until labour and finally the appearance of the child.
Today is about being born again. It is obvious that Christ places this spiritual appearance within the allegory of child birth with a meaning. Being born spiritually is absolutely spectacular. It is dealing with a wrestling within, because God has planted the spiritual Seed, through the Words of Christ in our minds. We already had the spiritual egg, only it was never conceived. And we are now conceived, the seed starts to germinate, we are spiritual pregnant,we have to make room for it. It is here now, and will be nurtured by Him through the presence of the Holy Spirit the Child of God starts to grow within us. Spirit gives birth to spirit. (vs 6) God is the One Who gives this birth, and Christ is the One Who will make His appearance within us. We can be born to this new Creation, this spiritual being God has meant us to become. (*1 Corinthians 6:17, Titus 3:5) We are not conceivable without Christ, and Christ cannot appear in this world without us. He has to be revealed through us. It is a two-unity that is being formed within us.
However the birth channel is a narrow, dark and ugly place to be in. It is a birthgiving life channel, yes, but squeezing us, oppressing us, sometimes defecting us through the hardships and suffering in our lives. It is really tough. Being born again spiritually is a process, not a one time event. It gradually reveals itself. Once there, for everyone to be Witnessed, a Child of God is a true miracle, and proven evidence of His existance.
But then we can say, hey, wait. This message is not for me. Lord Jesus says it is only for those whom the Spirit wants to choose. (vs 8) This passage has always divided people in my mind for years, and exegese has been fed by doctrines of the church or pastors trying to explain this seemingly random selection of Christians out of the nations today. Using terms like: “The Chosen ones” This division bell is loudly present in our Christian world. It is so unfair to the people whom God does not want the Spirit to come to. Even worse, this doctrine is shifting back some rather relevant Christian responsibility's from our plate back to God's. How must we grasp this passage then?
The revelation of this seemingly contradiction lies in the meaning of the name Nicodemus. It means Nikaeoo -victory- and Demus -nation, we the people- This shows us that the people Christ speaks to He calls: "victorious people". In the meaning of the name Nicodemus the Spirit of God reaches out to all people. We all are in the position to hear and feel the Wind, Spirit of God. His Spirit is already here. Poored out over all mankind, unto the ends of the earth. It requires and act of faith from us. We are asked to step out, step out of our safe and sheltered bubble and open ourselves up to Him. A spiritual birth is then inevitable. Do not be mistaken, the door handle is placed only on the inside. We have to open up. He is already there. We cannot blame God for random selecting Christians. We can only blame ourselves for believing so.This i believe is the essence that captures the process of being born again in the teaching of Nicodemus.
God bless, Mitchell
Deserts implicate themselves as remote places
Nothing distracts you from yourself
Ideal circumstances to look inward
Clear enough to discover truth
And soft enough to do this gently
a shelter in arms
a home without
a warm invite
a longing comfort
to one another
Today's congregation was all about faith. It triggered me to search my mind and see what pattern is in there and how that related to the words of Jesus.
Beginning with the words of Jesus in Matthew 17: 14 etc. the friends of Jesus asked Him how it was possible that their prayers did not have the outcome they expected them to be.
A legitimate question, was it not? They had expirienced Jesus prayers and seen what inpact that had on the people He prayed for. Now it was their turn and "none of them could heal him" The answer of Jesus to their question is absolutely stunning.
" it's because you don't have enough faith "
And this is where it went wrong in our christian thinking. To literally plant these words in our minds without fully understanding them, the prosparity gospel will be born in which we have to really work hard on our faith by extensive reading, studying, praying, serving and feeling guilty because we always fail to live up to the faith we are suppost to achieve, working the works Jesus did.
Really understanding the answer of Jesus, we have to realize that the subject of the discipels was not the epileptic boy, but their unability to heal him through their prayer.
That is the subject the disciples bring to the table here.Their question reveils their mindset. Reveils their conviction in "un" and "im" (impossibility, unfaitfulness, incompetence, unwanted, imperfect, unworthyness) meaning everything that is "not"
It is as old as the bible itself, this belief in "not" and "nothing" That is what Jesus referres to when He says " You do not have enough Faith" They do not have enough faith in the opposite, Jesus has shown them so many times, even on the top of the mountain a day earlier.
It is a message about al that is possible, faithful, competent, wanted, perfect, worthy. If this could only be in them as small as a mustard seed they would also see their prayers be put to reality.
The root of the problem here is not a lack of Faith, but a mindset, a conviction of the disciples in their "not" and "nothing" Faith here is pointing towards Jesus. He shows us what Faith consists of. It is a Fruit that is growing from a personal relationship with God. Faith is grown from trust, depending, sheltering and getting to know God.
Jesus has lived that out in His life here. We have to learn to invite this message in our minds. God believes in us, has faith in us, as He had in Jesus.
That is the mustard seed. That is the faith Jesus speaks about. Not our own achievements are important here. They can only stand betweem Him and us, as pityful attempts of small belief in our own mis-achievements and impossiblities. Jesus invites us to rise up to our destination, and to accept this God sent message to His children: "I have Faith in you, meaning: I will accept, I will see you worthy, I shall make all impossibilities possible, I will alter all the incompetent into competent children of Me.
We do not need to have faith in our own achievements or effords, but we need to adopt the Graceful words spoken in verse 21: "everything would be possible for you" We need to grow a deep depending and trust in Him, who is the completor of our Faith.
We do not need to develop more of our own thoughts about God, We need to adopt the thoughts of God about us, to accept them. He is not far away, but in us and through us He grows.
"A man becomes that, what the most important person to him believes about him"
God bless, Mitchell
Uit het dagboek
Deze week de start van een nieuw tijdperk. Harkstede. Wat zal wonen op deze plek ons brengen? Zullen wij eindelijk onze namen in het zand kunnen schrijven? - skylark- Het gaat er eigenlijk niet om waar we wonen, maar wie wij daar zijn.
All I want is a comfortable home- Nog één blik op de haven van West Terschelling in de zon. Afscheid. Even huilen van binnen. Mooi eiland. Maar ook afwerend. Ik heb me er nooit echt welkom gevoeld. Je moet hier knokken voor een plekje onder de zon.
We vertrekken. De spathoek gooit haar touwen los. Gek, je spreekt in meervoud en toch ken je geen mens. Net zoiets als voetbal. "We"hebben gewonnen. Maar wie zijn "We" en wat hebben we eigenlijk gewonnen?
Dat laatste is de grote vraag. Winnen is mooi, zeker. Maar verliezen is ongenaakbaar. Het impliceert dat je het eerst wel had, maar dat je het bent kwijtgeraakt of zoiets. En dat het jouw schuld is....
Got some food for thought today in our congregation, that i'd like to share: Its about the difference between being in Genesis 2 or in Genesis 3, a small pericope in the Torah but a huge , seemingly unleapable gap between the two sneaks into our mind when reading them.
It has to do with shame. Shame, the underlying self rejecting mainframe of its brother guild. We humans living in a western culture are trained to think in error and guild, not in shame. If something went wrong, we always want to know who's to blame and what's the most effective way to avoid colatteral damage.
That is the reason why it is so hard for us to endeavour the search to the effects of shame. Shame is all about how we value ourselves, and the fruit of being ashamed is fear and hiding ourself or the issues we are ashamed about from each other and from God.
Ever since we learned that forgiveness from our sins and faults leads us to redemption through Christ, we often fail to recognize this human obstacle towards self acceptation, and perpetue in the merry go round of sin/feeling guilty/reject ourselves/be redeemed through Christ till death us do part...
Shame tells us beyond our flaws that we ourselves are not worthy. That we shall ever be in debt and that we have to work hard to earn our forgiveness down to the last prayer.
This however is not according Genesis 2 and 3. We hear JHWH 's voice calling out, asking: Adam, where are you? Why are you hiding from me? Please let yourself be seen.
JHWH wants to restore contact with us, as it was before. But we are ashamed, we hide our real selves, and put up a sharade for Him before responding.
God cannot heal in us what we don't show Him. He cannot reach far enough as long as we reject ourselves to allow His uncompromising unconditional Love to the places of shame in our lives.
Getting rid of our sharade and become naked for Him is the key to the process getting back to Genesis 2, and allowing God to walk with us from day to day again. Heal us in everyday living. Touching our inner wounds and accepting ourselves the way He does.
For me, this message is Level 2. I will take serious time to really dig in and enjoy this Meal ! Hope you can too.
Today is the start of a new era in my life. Try to make every day count and include people in my life more. I feel like I am perhaps too old to start doing this, but time is precious and i can still learn.
I'll not start introducing who i am etcetera, because when you read my log, you will get to know me anyway. I will seriously try to make an honest dailynews from my personal expirience and thoughts.
Feel free to comment, i will not hold you back, nor will i respond to everything that comes my way, but when worth while, we can speak.
Some thought are in my native language, dutch, because of the poetry from my heart. Otherwise i think English is more accessible to the world.
For starters, i will share with you a poem that i wrote during a sailing trip with my father, who is now slowly losing his inner compass due to Alzheimer. Dedicated to him:
I dreamed the perfect dream
The water looked like sun on glass
The wind waved the clouds goodbye
And where those two met
Our boat set sail
Unto the sunsetting evening sky
Where she was trusted to the Anchor
Along with two red faced groupies