Sometime after sundown, in the dark of night, a religious leader named Nicodemus comes seeking an audience with Jesus. They are talking about God, and how people become part of God’s kingdom. The conversation bounces around, and there is a playful sparring with words, but in the end Jesus makes a strong, declarative summary statement: people become part of God’s Kingdom because they are “begotten” by God…and they are drawn to the light of God so that they can bear witness to God’s love and faithfulness.
Nicodemus struggled with the same issue facing many church-goers today, those who find themselves sitting in the pews but a million miles from God. Days go by, weeks, even decades…they see others all around them who seem to be “getting it”, “finding God”, “being born again”, feeling joyful and filled with love. But nothing has “happened” for them! A life spent in religious discipline feels a bit like slavery if it doesn’t flow from a living relationship with God. The soul can grow a nasty scab, and the spirit become bitter and discouraged. Such religion is not something celebrated and shared, but rather hidden and kept private…like the religious leader Nicodemus coming to Jesus under the cover of darkness. Even in the church, God’s kingdom remains invisible until we are begotten from above.