Have you ever had one of those moments in your life where it felt like everything had been turned upside-down? You didn't know what was true, what was right, what was real?
I was flipping through my Bible and stopped on John 3. In this passage of John's Gospel, John recounts the story of Nicodemus visiting Jesus and the disciples very late at night. Now Nicodemus was a Pharisee, one of the religious teachers of the Jews. He was actually one with great authority in the religious community. As one would assume, the Pharisees would not be caught dead visiting Jesus in the day for fear of persecution from the rest of the community not to mention the other religious teachers. So very late in the evening, a knock on the door echoes throughout the room. The door opens and there is Nicodemus on the other side.
I assume he was probably wearing a dark cloak that covered his face so no one would be able to recognize him. He probably stepped into the house before anyone even welcomed him in. This is where the story begins to get interesting.
Nicodemus was seeking truth. He's seeking an answer to why the religious statutes and laws that he acts in accordance with each and every day, don't justify him. Why his constant cleansing and purifying don't ever get him clean enough. Why his prayer and fasting never make him holy. Nicodemus was searching for something that his religious life could not provide. He thought Jesus would be able to provide him with that need.
I think Nicodemus is a pretty misunderstood guy. Whenever I read through John 3, I always criticized Nicodemus for not being able to understand the spiritual implications of Christ's words. "Of course he doesn't mean physical rebirth you idiot...you can't go back into your mom's...well you know..." But how idiotic was it really for Nicodemus to be asking these questions?
When Jesus came on the scene, He completely flipped the script on all religious teaching and instruction. The lessons He taught to the crowds that gathered were so contrary to the teaching of the day, the religious teachers constantly tried to get Jesus for teaching blasphemies and heresy. Jesus was counter-culture.
Nicodemus recognized that Jesus had been sent by God but like any remotely intelligent person, he wanted to (know) the truth, not just be told the truth. He wanted to know what Christ had for him and how he could get it. So Jesus tells him.
"Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." John 3:5-8
Jesus knew that Nicodemus was a smart guy, but I think He also knew that Nicodemus would be looking for the most accurate literal explanation. Jesus caught him before he was able to make a rebuttal. "Do not marvel" He says, and Jesus then compares being born of the Spirit to the wind, that unknowable and untouchable breath of God.
That evening, Nicodemus had had his life turned upside-down. Everything he was taught, every law, every statute, every ritual, had just been thrown out the window with Christ's words. His life of religiosity was filthy rags compared to the Spirit-filled life Christ mentioned found only in spiritual rebirth.
But Nicodemus took the first step. Nicodemus sought truth. How many times have you not taken that first step in trying to find truth? How many times have you walked the other direction or tuned out when someone presented you with the truth of the Gospel? For whatever reason, you chose to disregard truth and went your own way.
One day, every single soul will have to give an account for their life. Every deed, every action, every word. If your name is not found in the Book, you and every "good deed" you did is sent straight down the chute. Everything that is not done in Christ is in vain. Every kind word, every held door, every act of charity, when not presented as the love of Christ, is worthless to God.
God wants you because He loves you and He wants you to fulfill everything He has planned for your life. But it all begins with that first step, that open-handedness in front of God. That moment where your heart, along with your mind, scream out, "God show me you're real! Show me that You exist! I need something more than this life has to offer! Show me You are real!"
How long will you wait to take the first step? How long will you wait to seek truth? His truth exists in every aspect of this life, when will you open your eyes?