[This sermon reflection is going to be on the short side… just don’t have the time today ;( ]
Our sermon this week at 6:8 was based on Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3. Nicodemus, a Pharisee, knows something is different with Jesus, but can’t quite put his finger on it. Jesus blows his mind: “You have to be born again/from above, Nicodemus.” From here, Jesus pushes and prods Nicodemus along in his “faith.” I guess you could say Jesus was “evangelizing” – I mean he quotes John 3:16… BAZINGA!
What we focused on was Jesus’ method with Nicodemus; he acted as a spiritual midwife. Jesus knew Nicodemus had the knowledge of scripture, but he also knew that Nicodemus had no clue about the ramifications of Jesus’ mission. He didn’t spell it all out for Nicodemus and demand a “sinner’s prayer.” He led him from what he already knew into something deeper. He brought Nicodemus a few steps closer… but definitely not all the way. Did Nicodemus ever “convert”? We’re not sure, but the gospels do place him as one caring for Jesus’ body after the crucifixion so you have to wonder.
We too are called to be spiritual midwives. We bring people one step closer to God. Coming to God is not a simple, linear process; its more like an arc or a spiral. Too often, we short circuit this process and “cut to the chase” with people and force Jesus down their throats. Midwives don’t force birth; they help it along and care for the mother and baby. This is our job too.
My short reflection is this: if coming to faith in God is like an arc, walking in faith with God is not less arc-ful. Its not as if we “pray the prayer” and our “arc” transforms into a perfectly straight, upward sloping line leading to holiness. The lines that trace our spiritual journeys are just as spirally and wild after we profess faith in Christ than they were before. The spiritual journey comes in stages, and these stages get repeated, and sometimes we get stuck or even go backwards. We do ourselves harm when we compare our haphazard spiritual journeys to unrealistic, non-existent people with spiritual journeys that only and always increase in holiness and never lose sight of God. This just never happens. We’d be much better off if we continue to act as spiritual midwives for each other even after we come to faith in Christ. Salvation is not a one time event – its gets worked out over a lifetime. As we follow the Spirit’s lead, we are confronted to areas of our lives that need to be transformed by new birth from above. It doesn’t happen all at once. We need patience and ample amounts of grace.