Born of Water and Spirit
All of us have a little Nicodemus in us. Wouldn’t we all would like to have a conversation with Jesus with no one else around. We’d like to ask the questions that haunt us about God and about who we are as God’s children.
Let’s start with the call of Abram. Listen again to the words spoken to Abram: 1The Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
Abram get’s called and Abram goes and Abram’s purpose is explicit. Abram is blessed to be a blessing. Nicodemus knew this story. He too was a teacher in Israel, a Rabbi. He knew that Abram was called and he knew that God called him to be a blessing.
Abram and Nicodemus were both members of a people of God, chosen by God to be bearers of the kingdom of God.
But what does the kingdom of God look like?
Jesus talks about our needing to be born of both water and the spirit.
Our lives of faith begin with our baptisms and the baptism itself makes us part of the kingdom of God. Life on the other side of baptism is a place of wonderment and imagination.
Again, Jesus said we need to be born of both water and the spirit. Sometimes we have to work at understanding our water baptism, and in the process of understanding the water baptism we need the Spirit’s hand to pull us to the other side, the side where we live in the kingdom of God. Then we will know who we are as God’s children and as God’s disicples.
I was baptized in the Russian Orthodox Church at St. Mary’s Russian Orthodox Church in Cornucopia, Wisconsin. I did not understand my relationship to the kingdom of God in my baptism until years after the water was born and the words were spoken. The Spirit took my hand and I really struggled. I wasn’t interested in the kingdom.
Eventually, though, the Spirit won, as the spirit always does. When that happened I was on the other side of the water, and the words, and I was in the kingdom of God in a new and different way.
An Episcopal priest in Belmont, MI, Nurya Love Parish wrote this past week:
“I think that every baptism or confirmation class should include a showing of the movie Mary Poppins. Not for the suffragettes or the magic carpetbag. The point is the scene where Mary, Bert, and the children take hands and jump straight into the middle of a sidewalk chalk painting, emerging in an entirely new, much more colorful world.”
“That’s what becoming a disciple does. When you are grafted onto the body of Christ, you leave the old dreary world behind, and enter a world where the unexpected becomes commonplace. It’s not enough simply to say you are a disciple, you actually have to jump.” Parish says.
So what does the world look like when you jump?
First of all, when you jump you don’t jump alone the Spirit is jumping with you. The Psalmist has a clue when the writer of Psalm 121 says: 8The Lord will watch over your going out and your coming in, from this time forth forevermore. Jumping into the kingdom of God means we are jumping with the entire Trinity into a different way of life.
Once we are led by the Spirit to jump we see the world with God’s eyes. That’s what the kingdom of God is all about. We don’t see the world and the people around us with ordinary eyes.
Everyone knows John 3:16. But this verse is not solely what the kingdom is about. There are two parts of the description of the kingdom here. John 3:16 is the first part, the second part is John 3:17, the one everyone leaves out.
Hear those words again:
16“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.17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
The kingdom of God is not about judgment. It’s about grace.
The kingdom of God is about seeing a world desperate for the love of God.
The kingdom of God is not about believing a specific set of doctrinal rules and regulations, the kingdom of God is about a loving and gracious God who envelops us with arms of the Spirit so that we can be the kingdom.
To sum it up: We must be born of the water and the Spirit and in the process our lives are changed. We need to jump right into the middle of a new and exciting world where we daily meet the unexpected with joy. So let’s jump. Let’s jump right into the kingdom of God.