John 3: 1-16
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
Living a Reflective Life
Last week I had a visitation from one of our church members. She told me that she had tried to fit God into her life but now she tries to fit her life into God. That was a pretty profound statement. What does it mean to be a Christian? Being a Christian, I realized, is not about living a thoughtless life just full of activities and doing things. The Christian life is very much a reflective life. It’s about asking ‘What am I doing?’ and ‘How is it connected to God?’. Whatever is happening in my life, whatever emotion that I go through, you kind of reflect on it and then understand God better and, as a result, your life better. I think that’s what the Christian life is all about. Christian life is not just about doing good things and being full of activities, the Christian life is very much about leading a reflective life. Spiritually you reflect about your life in that way. It does not necessarily mean the Christian is a better person than the non-Christian, but you continuously reflect about what God wants to do and what God is doing in your life. So that reflective aspect of life is very much ingrained in Christian life and very much a part of life.
I saw that woman living a true Christian life. She’s continuously reflecting on whatever is happening in her life with God. And then she found this kind of profound statement: I used to try to fit God into my life, but now I realized that I should fit my life to God. And she has realized the secret, the truth about life. I think that’s what a Christian life is. You try to fit yourself in God because that’s what it means to be born again.
Maybe the Christian life is simple. You used to be at the center and then you try to even use God and fit God into your life, but after you are born again, you truly understand God’s theory. You try to have God in the center and then you fit your life into God, that’s what it means to be born again. Being born again does not make you a totally different person or a fanatic. Being born again is a reorientation of your thinking. You don’t put yourself first anymore, you put God first. That is the criteria, it is simple as that. So let us look at our life, do I put God first or do I put myself first? Can I really create myself being a Christian when I put myself first before God? Jesus taught us this interesting and ironical truth. This is what scripture says: the more you control your life, the more you lose control over it. The more you try to find yourself, the more you will lose yourself. Rather if you lose yourself, figuratively speaking, then you’ll find yourself. I think that’s amazing, truly amazing. That’s what I find in myself. The more I try to find myself, the more I lose myself. But when I forget about myself, I end up finding myself.
We Cannot Control Life
Life is not in my control, it’s a simple fact. It’s not in my control, and that’s what Jesus kept telling us. To Nicodemus, he said this about a person being born again (John 3:8): “The wind blows where it chooses and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes to. So it is with everyone who was born of the Spirit”. Jesus taught us the truth about life. You go out into the field and then you feel the wind and think, oh, the wind comes from the north. You hear the sound of it and you feel the direction of the wind, but you cannot control the direction of the wind. You don’t even try to control the direction of the wind. I wonder how many times we have tried to control the direction of the wind of our life. We are very clear about the fact that we cannot control the direction of the wind, but I’m not sure whether we’re truly clear about whether we can control the direction of the wind or not. And then sometimes we try to control the wind of our life. I think trying to control the wind of our life is an illusion. The faster you wake up from that illusion, the faster you will find joy and freedom.
I do believe that there are two different kinds of order in life. The order we bring in our life by trying to control it is very different from the order God brings to our life when we surrender ourselves to God. The order we create for ourselves is very rigid, limited, and sometimes suffocating. When we’re younger, that order was okay because it makes life safe and controllable. But as you become older, that order becomes suffocating. Rather than helping you feel safe, it inhibits you. You cannot be satisfied with the order that you create for yourself. The order that God brings to us is open, limitless, and liberating. Life is like this– first you start with order and then that order gets destroyed, then you bring in another order and then that order get destroyed, and so on. We cannot just choose one order and let it just fit our life continuously until we’re done because there is no growth, there is no liberation. The essence of life is always the old life perishing, and then discovering a new order. The order we create is rigid, but the order God creates is open, limitless, and liberating.
Resilient, Spiritual Life
The order we create for ourselves will be shattered by the hardships that hit our life. Strangely, the order that God brings to us when hardships hit our life enables us to somehow find a new shape. It molds our life into a different way and a new order. There are two orders that express strength. One is hard, the other is resilient. The real strength of a Christian life or spiritual life is rather resilient than hard. When something is hard and the pressure hits it, it sustains for a while but when more pressure hits it, it breaks. But resilience is like when the pressure hits you, it goes down, comes back up again, goes down and comes back. It never breaks. I think the Christian life, or spiritual life, has the strength of resilience.
Life in the spirit has tremendous freedom and yet tremendous resilience. When you build your life with your own strength, you have no choice but to build a small life. No matter how big you are, you are very small compared to God. The kind of life we build with our own strength is one where we have no choice but to live a small life. That life’s future is precarious. But with the spirit, your future is unknown and yet you’re in the good hands of God.
Let Go of Struggles
My friends, work hard and live diligently but don’t try to control your life. Let the spirit guide you. Let the spirit mold you. Let the spirit shape you. You’ll find a new dimension of order. When you surrender and let the spirit guide you, all of a sudden you’ll be taken to another level and another dimension of joy. You will struggle with life, how can we live without struggle? Every day’s a struggle, every week is a struggle. Everyday something else happens. We cannot live without struggle but I hope that your struggle is not the struggle that tries to hold onto something that you cannot hold, that’s a meaningless struggle.
Let your struggle be a struggle that you can let go of. I know some of our members have financial problems, they struggle so much. If they tried to hold onto something that they cannot hold onto, then that person would perish right now. Let it go. Let go of that grudge, let go of that hatred. If you don’t let go, you can never forgive. Jesus said, forgive each other 70 times 7 – endlessly. Sometimes you’re worried about your children, you must even let that go. I’ve experienced that in my own children, I had a moment of strong uncertainty about their future. I remember I said, “I leave them in Your hands”. Let go and surrender to the greater power of God who brings wonderful things to your life. Then you will find peace and see the Kingdom of God.
Experience the Kingdom of God
Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Very truly, I tell you can see the Kingdom of God without being born from above”. When you let the spirit control your life, you can see the beauty of life, the joy of life, the freedom of life, and you’ll see the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not a place nor a time, the kingdom of God is God’s reign. When you completely surrender yourself to God to God’s hands, that’s when the kingdom of God gets established in your life. I think that’s the truth that Jesus talks about. You have tremendous desire to control – just like children, so scared.
Why don’t you let go? That’s what it means to grow up. Let us experience how God will lead you, and that will definitely be better than what you experience. You will be able to experience tremendous joy, freedom, and vision. Life has to open up, don’t close it. The Holy Spirit can burst it open so that you come out confidently. You can live out your life fully and abundantly. That what life is. Life is to be celebrated. Life is to be enjoyed. Life is to do something you truly enjoy. Life is to discover God’s amazing plan for all of you.
Let us truly let the Spirit of God come upon us, melt us, mold us, fills us and use us. We need to surrender ourselves and let go of the things we hold onto because of our fear. Let us have the opportunity to let go of the things we so tightly hold onto and let the Spirit control you, guide you and lead you.