The last year of my university, I was wandering in the wildness emotionally, questioning “What is my future? Can I get a proper job to help my family which was carrying heavy debts? Where can we find my younger sister’s tuition fees for her high school?” What was worse, I should take treatment for my illness, I had TB (tuberculosis) and that cost was not easy either. Being nervous for my future which was lacking in guarantees, I could not concentrate on my studies. Late one evening, I just walked out from the library to find any Church to meet God if God was there.
There were several churches around my school and only the smallest church had left its doors open. Nobody, no light, dark. Perfect for me because I needed to call God loudly until He came. I knelt down on the cement floor because I did not feel worthy enough to sit in the pew not being a churchgoer. It sounds like crazy but the idea was from my simplistic mind. My new routine, night time Church visits continued for several months before Christmas time as church people came to prepare for the events. My presence seemed to be inconvenient for their activities, so I stopped.
That passion and zeal to meet God alone in the pitch-darkness and cold strange sanctuary has never happened to me again. I don’t know from where I got the enthusiastic zeal but I did not feel any fear or scariness or chilliness. It was an amazing experience. I have not ever felt such a sense of surrounding warmth and peacefulness.
All I can say is in seeking God, He came to me. He had known what I needed. I was very grateful to have those special times to meet God.
In today’s Gospel, Nicodemus visited Jesus in the night. There are a number of suggestions about his night time visit.
First suggestion, most Christ’ followers were unlearned and ignorant people, also Jesus was from Nazareth and so He was called low-class. Nicodemus, a man of authority in Jerusalem was probably ashamed to meet Jesus in order to receive counsel, so he chose the night time.
Second, Nicodemus might be scared about being exposed in his visit to Jesus by others especially his colleagues as Jesus was on such a blacklist.
Third, Nicodemus had carefully considered Jesus’ best hour as He was engaged all day in public with the stream of people. And perhaps Nicodemus could not spare time to make a visit to Jesus during the day.
However, from my point of view, the time was not the main issue but the most reasonable reason was Nicodemus’ zeal and eagerness to meet Jesus. He knew that Jesus toured everywhere to reach out to the broken people, he did not want loose an opportunity to see Jesus. Too late to regret! He simply came in the night.
That night, the conversation between Christ and Nicodemus was very direct. Nicodemus as a Pharisee had been seeking Salvation for a long time, struggling with this important question all his life before he met Jesus. He did not use any unnecessary words but came immediately to the main subject, concerning his own soul and his Salvation with respect for Christ.
Jesus answered sternly. He cut Nicodemus’ spirit in two. To repeat, Christ shook his heart to help him understand Jesus’ important message, Salvation which was the heart of the matter for Nicodemus’ faith. Jesus declared “Be born again!”, which meant, the beginning of life from a new foundation. How?
This morning, Jesus speaks to us as well, “Be born again!” You and I must have a new nature, new principles, new aims and new affections. We must have a life of communion with God. Our spirit must be fashioned and enlivened anew in God.
Let us take a moment to look at the world. What do you see in the world today?
The world is losing unity, off track and in a crisis. It is hard to define what a meaningful life is because moral, ethical and spiritual values are changing. It does not mesh with goals and morals. It is very confusing to find a sense of purpose in life. What about most peoples’ spiritual promises in their childhood? They have gone a long time ago. The rates of suicide, alcohol abuse, drug addiction are terrible, and computer games and gambling are very problematic. Many people are blinded spiritually.
According to the Newspaper, the Record, December 30 last year, in the Faith section it said, “On average, regular churchgoers drink, smoke, and use recreational drugs less than non-churchgoers do. The youths who are involved in a religious organization take tougher courses, and get higher academic achievements. Thus, churchgoing promotes a healthier lifestyles as well as creates a good society, which increases the social ties that encourage people take care of one another.
Unfortunately, many places in the world ignore God’s discipline or choose not to accept the teachings of Jesus in their lives. Spiritual blindness eventually leads to a grievous condition, where people cannot see all that God has produced for our well-being, which in turn allows us to take advantage of opportunities for personal advancement all through His Grace.
However, we cannot know light if we do not know darkness and vice versa, we cannot know darkness if we do not know light. No matter how badly this world is corrupted, we should quickly come back to the connection between ourselves and God to renew our spirits and to renew our hearts. Nicodemus was greatly surprized to hear of being born again but he did not turn his back upon Christ. He willingly acknowledged his ignorance and was humble before Jesus in receiving His message.
To be born again is to be born of the Spirit. The change does not come through wisdom or power of our own efforts but by the power and influence of the blessed Spirit of God’s Grace. We must seek God. We must spend our time in learning and teaching the Word of God. By doing so, we reform our hearts and lives. Do not speak from “hearsay” but testify what you have seen. With your clear evidence, the Divine God will engage you, renew your heart, your spirit and your life to make you a witness to proclaim your great assurance to this spiritually blinded world. Bring the Peace that God has given to you to the place where you stand and renew the people whom you see. Be born again together!
Truly, this life change does not come by any wisdom or power of our own but by the power and Divine inspiration of God. We must seek God first.
Today, we celebrate Trinity Sunday. Our Creator God loves such a wicked world and sends His only Son, Jesus who God is in, reconciling all to Him to save us. For the sake of His power of love, we shall have a new life. It is unspeakable happiness for the world. Jesus offers those who seek Him the gift of the Holy Spirit. God’s Divine power, through the Holy Spirit, strengthens our hearts to keep in us Peace, which the world cannot give us.
Life is sometimes a self-evidencing place. How do you show the world the Triune God who renews your heart?
Let us pray:
Powerful God, may You make us bold enough to embrace your wisdom and be open to being shaped by its way. Speak to us, that we might enact your word and transform our world in amazing ways to conform to your way of compassion, love, and justice. Amen.