"I don't understand"
6 Like from like. Whatever is born from flesh is flesh; whatever is born from Spirit is spirit. 7 Don’t be shocked by My words, but I tell you the truth. Even you, an educated and respected man among your people, must be reborn by the Spirit to enter the kingdom of God. 8 The wind blows all around us as if it has a will of its own; we feel and hear it, but we do not understand where it has come from or where it will end up. Life in the Spirit is as if it were the wind of God.
Nicodemus: 9 I still do not understand how this can be.
Jesus: 10 Your responsibility is to instruct Israel in matters of faith, but you do not comprehend the necessity of life in the Spirit?
John 3:6-10 (The Voice translation)
All throughout today’s reading we find a montage of “humanisms,” which are those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors we default to because of our mortal limitations.
The chapter opens with Nicodemus—who by the standards of his day was a respectable, well educated, and knowledgeable man—struggling to understand the new revelations that Jesus tries to impart. A man who undoubtedly worked hard and studied harder to attain such a status because of a noble desire to grow in knowledge and understanding, and yet he is instantly humbled when Jesus tells him in that human efforts only produce human results.
It reminds me of what Pastor John shared in Sunday’s message that as long as we rely on our own efforts and understanding, at maximum potential with optimal performance, we still tap into only a fraction of what we have access to as followers of Jesus. In the face of this, over and over again Nicodemus responds, “I don’t understand”.
Do you ever look at the life around you and profess “God, I just don’t understand”? Perhaps your struggle with understanding is similar to that of Nicodemus: you thought you had a solid grasp on this whole religion thing until your religion meets relationship. Now you feel socially awkward as an adult trying to get know Jesus.
Stepping out to worship feels similar to that first proclamation of affection for a new crush. Sacrificing time, rearranging priorities, getting to know a whole new side of Him as you grow in intimacy, and you learn recognizing the Holy Spirit can make you feel like you’ve completely fallen for Him—have you?
Or maybe your struggle lies in the expectations you carry when in comes to God. Expectations of how He should respond to us, to others, to the world we live in. Throughout this chapter, we learn how often God responds in ways contrary to our expectations. Instead of judgment. He brings love(v.18). Instead of requiring sacrifice, He provides the ultimate sacrifice(v.16). Instead of competing for our own gain, every win is for the Kingdom(v.26-30). He isn’t bound by our expectations, and if He were, we would be selling ourselves short.
The reality is we all struggle. My struggle may look different than yours in this season, but we can all proclaim John 3:30 over our lives “He must increase, and I must decrease.” For doubts to subside, to overcome struggle, to gain understanding, He must increase. Is there any area of your life where you could benefit from more of Him?
Father, we come before you in our mortal limitations, and we thank you that love us all the same. We may not initially or even always understand what it is like to be in relationship with you, but we thank you that you want that relationship anyways. Lord, help us decrease so that you may increase that we may grow in understanding, knowledge, and faith in you for the glory of you and your kingdom. Decrease us that we may understand. In Jesus name, amen.