I find myself in a strange position, relative to this Sunday’s gospel reading. (John 3: 1-17
The most widely quoted, and most thoroughly mis-understood, portion of Scripture is before us, and I am tempted to a dangerous comparison.
Nicodemus is occasionally lauded for his bravery (he was one of those whom Jesus so soundly criticized in his teaching, yet he came to honour the spirit that he saw in Jesus…)
still he (Nicodemus) comes full of doubt.
We might take his example as a mirror of our own – and take courage from it –
but this morning, I find only stubborn unwillingness in Nicodemus’ visit.
Jesus – teaching a new vision – offering a new way to understand God’s activity in the world; a new way to engage creation in concert with the creator – is met with an ancient chorus of “we’ve never done it that way before…”
I said a dangerous comparison – for I secretly see myself taking Jesus’ part in this dialogue – not so dangerous until I suggest who might take the part of Nicodemus.
It should be the church who leads the world in innovation and education.
It should be the gathered people of God who offer Jesus new vision – refreshed every day, not just every several generations – for a people weary of the same old violence – the same old grind – the same injustice – the same feelings of despair
But the church insists on joining the Nicodemian chorus; “That’s not how we remember it! How can it be? What does this mean?”
God knows the way out of this – Jesus saw that the reluctant world needed a push, and he continues to push us.
We need the lessons of love Jesus offers – we long for the peace that God promises
but we are guilty of thinking that we already know what form it might take.
This arrogant knowing takes into account only our comfort, and our (always) limited knowledge, but Jesus comes with new knowledge (every time) and fresh ideas (every time),
The wisdom of the day continues to despise him for it.
If we would truly honour Christ, we would stop despising him for trying to drag us out of our comfortable ideas and into the uncomfortable presence of the One whose glory set the temple ablaze.
The ideas, structures and understanding that we are trying so desperately to protect are inventions for our diversion – they are not the kingdom promised by God.
That kingdom exists and unfolds right before our eyes, and our “faith” (such as it has become) blinds us to its glory.