Higher Thoughts, Higher Ways

I don’t know about you, but I like it when things make sense.  It makes me feel safe.  So, when I read the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus in John 3:1-21, it is almost enough to throw me into a tailspin.  Nicodemus is a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin who comes to Jesus at night, probably so the other religious leaders would not see him speaking to him, and tells him that they know he comes from God because of the miracles he has been performing (v. 2).  Jesus does not even address Nicodemus’ statement.  He answers him by saying, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God” (v. 3).  Where did that come from?  It doesn’t even make sense.  How can someone be born twice?  It is impossible.  Jesus explains to him that it is a spiritual rebirth, not a physical one, but “The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit” (v. 8)  It can’t be explained, and Nicodemus is still confused. 

One thing that I have learned in my relationship with God is that the greatest blessings come when we yield to the things that just don’t make sense to us.  It is easy for us to be obedient to things God calls us to do when we can make sense of them.  “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9)  God knows so much more than we do.  God sees the big picture, whereas we only see glimpses.   Sometimes, our lives and our ministries seem like a big puzzle, pieces all jumbled looking like a mess on the table.  But when we surrender everything to God, he helps us put the puzzle together piece by piece and creates a picture even more beautiful than we ever could have imagined.

But God, it doesn’t make sense for me to say that to her, she is going to think I am crazy.”

“But God, it doesn’t make sense for me to go into public ministry.”

“But God, it doesn’t make sense for me to go to school after all these years of being out of school.”

“But God, I don’t even know that person and you want me to go pray with him?  That doesn’t make any sense.”

“But God, you want me to apologize?  He hurt me first.”

“But God, it doesn’t make sense for me to leave my high paying job to become a missionary.”

“You want me to do what?”

Jesus didn’t perform miracles to show off or to display himself.  His miracles were about two people: the person he was ministering to and his Father.  So when Nicodemus tells Jesus that he knows that he is from God because of the miracles he performs, Jesus changes the subject.  It is almost as if Jesus was saying, “Great!  Now that you know who I AM, let’s get on with it and talk about what really matters…your salvation.”

When God asks us to do things that don’t make any sense, it is never about us.  It is about the person He wants us to minister to and about pointing them to Him!  If we want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, we must be willing to be uncomfortable sometimes.   Jesus, being stripped of his royalty to come to this earth to take our sins upon himself and pay the penalty for our offenses so we won’t have to….that doesn’t make much sense either. 

One thing that we learn about Nicodemus is that he finally got it.  In John chapter 7, he defends Jesus, and after Jesus’ death in John chapter 19, he brought spices and helped prepare His body for burial.  Instead of coming to Jesus in secret, he began to come to him in the light of day.  The conversation he had with Jesus may not have made sense, and left him confused, but in time, it all became clear. 

What is your “But God…”?  When we step out in faith and say “Yes” to the things that don’t make sense us, our faith will increase because it is in those times that we will be able to see God at work in the lives of others in a brand new light.  We have the awesome privilege of being used by God.  Let us make the most of every opportunity to serve him. 

Karisa Madera Executive Assistant Central Church of Christ Del Rio, TX