I’ve grown lazy lately. I have spent far too much time reading about the iPhone, and far too little time thinking about things that—well—matter. It struck me as I read John 3 this past week (one of the first times I have slowed down my relentless gadget-idolatry long enough to spend time in the word this month) that I marvel at all the wrong things.
Jesus is talking to Nicodemus, a religious and cultural leader (think: a nice mixture of P-diddy back when he was called Puffy and John Piper any time after he started speaking at Passion Conferences), and he is telling him some pretty crazy stuff. He says that in order to see God we have to be birthed again. (I avoid using the phrase “born again” so that maybe you and I won’t just drive by what has become a well-known label, and instead hear the words at the same degree of slap-you-in-the-mouth absurdity that Nicodemus heard them.) Nicodemus stated the obvious in reply. “How? Am I supposed to climb back in the womb? That doesn’t sound pleasant for anyone involved” (My paraphrase and extrapolation)
I have to say, I think its a valid question, and that Nicodemus had to have laughed while asking it. I probably would have. But it’s Jesus’ reply that absolutely has been ringing in my ears since I read it. Jesus says “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘you must be born again’…” (Emphasis added, and actual wording not checked, but I think I’m in the neighborhood).
So let’s spell it out. Not only does Jesus toss out strange instructions like “be born” (a process that I was exceptionally passive in the first time around, making it very difficult to turn into an imperative), but he then tags on the end “…and don’t be shocked or wonder about it.”
That’s when it hit me. Jesus is saying, I think, that we get sidetracked like a two-year-old in a shiny stuff factory. We start to marvel, or wonder, at things that aren’t the point.
I am a marveler at all things gadget. I marvel at the fact that now when I put an item in my calendar on my computer, less than 10 seconds later it mystically appears in my phone’s calendar. I marvel at the fact that they have phone numbers that you can call and speak into the phone a note to yourself, and less than 5 minutes later you recieve an email or text of the note transcribed for you.
So before Nicodemus (and I) get off track and start talking messy logisitics of being born a second time, or arguing theology, or any of that, Jesus heads us off at the pass, saying not to marvel at those things. The one we need to marvel at is the one telling us not to marvel at other things. He is the God-man, come to save us from our idolatry, our marveling for too long at things that don’t matter, and neglecting the things that do.
I am so thankful for God’s grace. Pardon me while I go and marvel.