Sunday Message 03 08 20 Nicodemus Paradigm Shift

Does anyone feel like Nicodemus sometimes? 

with what Jesus says? 


Or written in the epistles sometimes especially with Paul? 

Especially the Old Testament 

with the books of laws and the prophets! 


Like, I just don’t get it! 

Like some of these philosophical books or scientific ones 

I have to reread the paragraph like 3 or 4 times 

to understand what they are saying! 


Same way with Jesus 

Just too intelligent and wise 

Trying to get it into thick-skulled people like me 


Not worthy!  I’m not worthy! 


But then again: 

Who was Abraham to be chosen to have faith like that? 

Who was Abraham to receive those promises? 

A travelling wanderer, a stranger 

Not settled down and stable 


Still figuring things out 

Going through uncharted territory 


And back to Nicodemus… 

Arrives to see Jesus at night (not the best portent) 


This is part of a process for Nicodemus 

Jesus challenges his preconceived notions 

about how God works 


Though he comes at night, 


he does arrive with a certain openness 


Nicodemus is focused on the “earthly things” 

in his questioning 

How are these signs possible? 

How can one be “born again”? 


So used to basing things only on what he can touch and see 

How can he switch to heavenly things? 

To the love and mercy of God 


It is a process for him throughout the story 

He must come to understand 

Born from above, born of the Spirit 


Heavenly and Earthly distinction 


It is like speaking of the universe with different categories 

Like going from Aristotle’s cause and effect 

To Newtonian physics with laws of gravity 

Then on to our own day with quantum mechanics 

and string theory 

Each way is perhaps appropriate in its context 

for understanding the world 


Jesus is pulling Nicodemus into a whole paradigm shift 

A whole new way of seeing and living in the world 


Something that his current culture had not prepared him for 

Something that could not just be conceived through the law 

Through their perspective of being the chosen people 

It does not mean it wasn’t a good way of viewing the world 


I do good, and try my best to stay in my lane 

Then God will bless me 

It seemed to work out that way more often than not 

So the system wasn’t wrong exactly 

Perhaps just not big enough to encompass all the factors 


Perhaps it had also become diluted 

From its original intention 

Perhaps the religious and political systems 

 had become stale to the common people 

Not speaking to their current context anymore 

Whereas Jesus was speaking to their hearts and needs 

Right now 


Maybe the destruction of the Temple 

Wasn’t going to be reversed and Roman rule was different 

Than the past 

Things were not going back to “normal” 

How were they going to adapt to this new environment? 


“Canoeing the Mountains” 

Story of Lewis and Clark 

Travelling to the West Coast 


Thought they would find a waterway 

that would lead them all the way to the Pacific Ocean 

What they found were the Rocky Mountains 


Imagine arriving there with boats for taking a river 

And all you see are mountains upon mountains 

upon mountains…   Upon mountains 


They had to adapt to this new context 

in order to finish their journey 


In many ways, the author contends 

We are travelling in uncharted territory as a human species 

Globalization, technology, social dynamics 


Everything is shifting 

but we are in many ways 

using somewhat outdated models of viewing the world 

and interacting with it 


We are not prepared for the changes 

Yet somehow there will be something new 

God is working in the newness 

God promises in the midst of that change and newness 

To do something good and productive 


We have to learn to be adaptable, 

To be open like Nicodemus, 

even if we don’t quite understand everything 

Keep searching, questioning, asking God for more… 


God’s promises are the basis of our faith 

And that will never change 

God’s providence in our journeys (Psalm) 

Amid the dangers of life 

God’s nature is to be a refuge, a shelter, a protector 

Especially of the weakest and oppressed 

And of all who call upon his name with their hearts 


That is who God is always and forever 

Because God is love. 


Jesus is “lifted up” like the serpent in the wilderness 

To bring healing and save the people 

So that those who trust (believe) in him 

would have eternal life 

God sent Jesus not to condemn the world, but to save it. 


How does that work with the judgment aspect? 

Well, I just have to say, 

We should be grateful that Jesus is the judge 

The epitome of living for others 

Died for others as well. 


God’s love and mercy in the flesh 

That is the true Word of God 

And the message that 

ALL who have faith are descendants of Abraham 


We have to shift our paradigm, 

Look first to God and God’s love 

For us, and for all people, and for all creation. 


That should be the basis for everything we do 


It is hard to fit it with the everyday world sometimes 

The hustle and bustle 

The getting ahead of things 

The law and the rules that keep all this going along 

Vengeance and retribution 

Greed and power 

Death and death by heavenly standards 

Yet very logical from an earthly perspective 


We are called to be like Abraham 

Abraham is like the epitome of the one 

who needs to trust in God. 

He goes out on a limb, unsure of future 

But he had faith that God would be there as promised 


We can step out as Abraham did, And Paul 

For we are all on a journey in our lives 

We are on a process of understanding 

and reconciliation with God 

We are on a journey of learning 

how to live with love and mercy 

And forgiveness, as God shows us 


God’s love, is a reckless kind of love 

It seeks us out and tracks us down 

And if God can do that for us 

Why would we hold it back from anyone else? 

The reckless, never-ending love of God 


It will change our paradigm 

Change the way we see others 

We can’t earn it, we don’t deserve it 

But yet he gave his life for us.  

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending. Reckless love of God.


We then sang this song: