Do not help the butterfly!: The true cost of the born again experience

Pastor Roberto Miranda

FULL TRANSCRIPT

let's let's go to the word of the Lord

now and I want to I want to stay on John

chapter 3 you know I had every intention

of just going on to something else but I

I kept thinking about that encounter

between Jesus and Nicodemus and you know

it's a very rich very complex passage

full of all kinds of important concepts

that we need to explore and you know one

of them that III we may have just

glossed over it but I think it deserves

our zooming into it and focusing on it

is this idea of being born again I mean

you we hear that expression all the time

you know a born-again Christian

sometimes it's the object of great

respect when Christians speak of it

sometimes it's an object of a bit of

ridicule when non-believers speak of

born-again Christians and the born-again

experience and so on but it's really one

of the most mmm one of the most

fundamental important principles in the

Bible and that we need to dedicate that

time to it so let's let's just zoom into

that word and let me just go back a

little bit again we we talked about the

Samaritan woman in the past two weeks

and I touched on Nicodemus a bit and

nowadays you know with the Spanish and

the English service sometimes I go into

one and and I fallen sort of behind one

and the other and I'm not sure really

sometimes what I preach in one and what

I preach in the other so if you are

hearing some things that I touched on

last Sunday they will serve as

reinforcement but there's a lot of new

material that I really want to cover

with you with you so III don't think I

read the passage and let me just go to

some of the words here in this encounter

between Nicodemus and so I focused more

on the Samaritan woman but what I see is

this that this these two encounters

between Jesus and the Samaritan woman

and Nicodemus they have a lot of things

in common and it's worth of focusing on

them and even in their differences

they actually reinforced each other in

the principles that they contain and

there's a third encounter that I will

touch on at some point before I go into

another topic which is a John chapter

five and it's with this man this

paralytic who Jesus encounters in the

pool in Bethesda and you will see that

it's no coincidence that this three sort

of characters are right like one after

the other Nicodemus is in chapter 3 the

Samaritan woman is in chapter 4 and the

paralytic at Bethesda is in chapter 5

and I think that there is a unity in

these are three characters excuse me a

second grab some water here and you will

see clearly that there is a kind of a

relationship because they all focus on

Jesus number one just the figure of

Jesus the centrality of him and we see

that Jesus is very interested in

presenting himself for the consideration

of these individuals something

exceptional something unique something

that provides a process and experience

that is not attainable through any other

entity any other experience except

through him and so Jesus is very

interested in lifting himself up before

the consideration of these three

individuals and and each of these

chapters is oriented toward focusing on

the person of Jesus and you know I I

myself have been blessed and reinforced

in my own appreciation of the person of

Jesus you know you might that might seem

strange for a pastor to say a Christian

pastor but it's true that many times you

know we can kind of Jesus can become a

hazy element in the entire sort of

cosmos of the Christian faith and we do

confess that he is central but often we

do not see him really for what he is and

I have been reinforced in this idea that

we need

you know just present Jesus and and

focus on him because he's such a source

of power and transformation and energy

so to speak so let's just go quickly in

chapter 3 verse 1 John just now there

was a man of the Pharisees named

Nicodemus a member of the Jewish ruling

council he came to Jesus at night and

said rabbi we know you are a teacher who

has come from God for no one could

perform the miraculous signs you are

doing if God were not with him in reply

Jesus declared I tell you the truth no

one can see the kingdom of God unless he

is born again so there is that concept

of being born again that is the source

of this terminology that is used by so

many Christians being born again that is

the the that is where it is found and

then there are other passages in

Scripture which we'll touch on which are

development of that particular truth so

Jesus is saying Nicodemus no one

including yourself can see the kingdom

of God unless he is born again so

Nicodemus who is a religious man I mean

he this is he is a priest in a sense I

mean he's not he's not a priest but he

is a member of a governing body the

Sanhedrin which is made up of extremely

religious individuals he may have had

religious training he may have been a

rabbi himself but certainly he is a very

religious man he has a lot of religious

knowledge he is very respectable and

being a member of the governing body of

the Jewish people who are you know

essentially a theocratic people at the

time of Jesus he is an influential

highly highly experienced man in the

things of the Spirit as they as the

Pharisees understood as the Jews

understood and that is particularly

significant this is no ignorant person

regarding spiritual truths this is not a

sinner you know an acknowledged sinner

an obvious sinner like the Samaritan

woman is and that's why I say that even

even in their contrasts they do

reinforce this important element of the

house central Jesus is in house enter

and how important it is no matter where

you come from whether you come from a

very respectable background

whether you come from a religious

background that you go to church every

Sunday and so on and so forth or whether

you are a an accomplished sinner unless

you have gone through the person of

Jesus Christ and unless he has gone

through you you really do not know him

you you do not have salvation you do not

have a saving experience of the Lord

your soul is essentially lost because

it's not about religion it's not even

about sin in itself it's about what

Jesus Christ that that magnetic powerful

mysterious figure can provide for your

life and so we will see that this is

Jesus entire interest as it is also with

the Samaritan woman you know he takes

her through a journey

slowly he speaks to her he enters into a

conversation he entertains her doubts

and her questions but his entire focus

and objective is to bring her to see him

Jesus for who he truly is the savior of

the world the Son of God the the the

person that she needs to establish a and

that Nicodemus need to establish a vital

relationship with so so you know they

enter into a dialogue and Nicodemus is

intrigued and kind of baffled by this

idea of being born again what does that

mean

does that mean that in order for me to

be safe I have to get back into the womb

of my mother he's taking Jesus literally

and I think he's also revealing the

ultimate ignorance of a person who is

merely religious who hasn't really had a

saving experience a a transformative

experience where even their intellect

and their understanding has been

impacted where the life of God is not in

them enabling them to think in biblical

terms in spiritual terms in in the

symbolic terms that Christianity revels

in so he's just an intellectual even

though he has a religious experience he

really is just an intellectual person

trying to look at the religious

experience through theological

institutional conceptual eyes but hasn't

had a spiritual activation that enables

him to understand the language of heaven

so he thinks that Jesus is speaking

literally just as the into interestingly

enough the Samaritan woman also thinks

that Jesus is speaking literally when he

says if you knew who is asking you for

water you would ask him and he would

give you water for eternal life and he

would give you water that you will never

be thirsty again it says Wow Lord I want

that water what what brand is it and and

Jesus is not speaking about physical

water he is speaking about that

enlivening satiating satisfying liquid

or essence that he provides when you

enter when you enter into an experience

with him that satisfaction that you feel

that sense of grounding that sense of

knowing who you and where you come from

and who and where to you are going this

grounding that you feel that whatever

experience you have in life whether it's

tragedy or loss or great triumph and and

advancement that it you know it's all

framed by this knowledge of Jesus in and

of human existence that it's all

relative that it's all conditioned by

eternity when you have Christ you have

this grounding you have the sense of

permanence the world is not able to just

toss you back and forth as we are want

to experience if I have a great job

wonderful I mean the heaven but if I

lose my job I'm in despair if somebody

loves me and and affirms me great I feel

worthy but if they go to somebody else

or they disdain me or ignore me then I'm

in total chaos

you know the person who has that water

of life they are they are satiated

they are grounded and so this is what

Jesus speaking about this water but

Nicodemus is not able to understand that

at all and so Jesus gets into a little

bit of an interesting dialogue with him

and so we go on and in verse 13 Jesus

you know Big D

Bernice's no one has ever gone gone into

heaven except the one who came from

heaven the Son of man now he's really

getting into the meat of the

conversation this is no longer just kind

of symbolic discussion no he's now like

he did with a Samaritan woman he is now

bringing her to the kill in the best

sense of the word

actually for the life which is he's now

bringing the attention to himself in a

very obvious sort of way just as Moses

lifted up the snake in the desert

Nicodemus would have understood that

language because he's referring to

Jewish history when the Jews were in the

desert and they were desperate dying I

think I spoke about that Sunday last

Sunday and God had Moses fashioned this

bronze serpent as a symbol of life and

he says whoever looks at it will be

healed from their wounds from these

serpents that were running around as a

actually as a punishment for the the

idolatry and the the ingratitude of the

Jews in the desert so he fashioned this

this serpent as an instrument salvation

and now Jesus rescues that from history

and brings it to himself and says just

as Moses lifted up the snake in the

desert so the Son of Man must be lifted

up that everyone who believes in Him may

have eternal life so you see that he's

changing the terms of the conversation

completely and I love that I'm gonna

just stop at that well two verses are

crucial here for God so loved the world

one of the most famous verses in all

scripture that He gave His one and only

Son that whoever believes in Him shall

what shall not perish now where I invite

you to think where does that word come

from and what does that mean in the 21st

century we read these words in kind of

this modern Christianity that we

experience and we kind of gloss over it

but if you think about it that much of

the language of Christianity is based on

this idea of perishing or being saved of

lostness or of rescue of eternal

perdition and death or eternal life or

of condemnation or justify

occasion and so what do these concepts

refer to they refer to eternal life or

death they refer to that ugly ugly word

that we have to refer to hell or heaven

and you see that you know in in the in

the whole system of Jesus and salvation

and the gospel and Christianity this

idea of of hell or heaven as an eternal

destiny for the human being is

absolutely central when you take that

away from the construct of Christianity

you're really left with one of the most

important pieces because this is why the

Son of God came it says it wasn't to

give us a better life it wasn't just to

enhance the quality of our life that

Jesus came Christianity does that in

spades yes but that's not the main

reason for the coming of the Son of Man

Jesus came to save us from hell and to

enable us to go into heaven in eternity

and that is all over for me

you know as I've studied these texts

it's just reinforced that my it's

liberated me really to speak freely and

openly about this because I that unless

we understand that we will not

understand the urgency of sharing the

gospel with others and we will not

understand the urgency of our own

situation so this language you know this

is the Son of man came so that whoever

believes in Him shall not perish but

have eternal life there is a an

equivalency here an inverse equivalence

if you will perishing eternally or

living eternally and Jesus says you know

I have come in order to give people the

possibility to escape this option and to

embrace this option and then you know he

goes on in verse 18 says well 17 is also

really good and that's fine if we don't

get to you know it says for God did not

send his Son into the world to condemn

the world but to say

the world through him what is this thing

of condemning and saving it's it's a

references to again death and life and

interesting why did I cannot why Cannot

I why I can't escape that verse it's

because in a way you know sometimes we

think Christianity is a condemning

religion it is to condemn people it is a

judgemental religion you know God

condemns people to hell Jesus you know

condemns people to hell and he says no I

mean the scripture is very insistent

that God does not want anyone to perish

this is why actually he sends his son

this is why he frames an entire system

and plan which is so simple for people

to be saved it's because he doesn't want

anybody Jesus says I do not condemn

people myself they condemned themselves

by rejecting me so he says whoever

believes in Him is not condemned but

whoever does not believe stands

condemned already because he has not

believed in the name of God's one and

only Son really what is saying here is

that people you know hell is is there by

default in a way to lose your soul is

not an active act of God almost it is

really it's there a place that you go to

when you do not choose the other option

when you do not click the box as I said

last Sunday and so everybody needs to do

that in order to be able to enter into

that other experience so you know the

passage itself is so it's just

impossible to read it without going

through some of it but here's a question

what does being born-again really mean

let's let's do codify that let's break

it down that's what I aspire to do it

already I see that you know that there's

so much here what does it consist of to

be born again what is that what did that

is what does that experience entail and

what does it mean and have we

experienced it there's this idea of

radicalness radicalness at the heart of

the born-again experience it is that

it's a that the experience of being

saved should be a radical

experience this idea of radicalness is

linked to the concept of being born

again it refers to such an absolute

change when we know and accept Jesus as

Lord that effectively it constitutes

like a new birth okay and this is why

the conversion experience should be more

than just a lateral positional change it

has to be something extraordinary and

Thoreau and I'm gonna be reading here a

little bit I I don't like to read as

much but you know again just to be able

to get through a lot of this stuff you

know that what Jesus is saying is and

what the Bible says is that this

experience of coming into a saving

knowledge of Jesus Christ is so radical

that it's like you are born again and

actually it's not like you're born again

there is an element of reality in that

this idea is at the heart of the

encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus

Nicodemus comes to Jesus in a very

casual sort of way he sees Jesus as you

know one more teacher and that's what he

went wrong you see the reason why Jesus

responds in such a a confrontative sort

of way which would seem almost like like

he's rejecting Nicodemus Nicodemus is

giving him a huge compliment and Jesus

like tosses that aside and says

Nicodemus unless you were born again you

cannot be saved he doesn't understand

Nicodemus doesn't understand that he has

to give everything up including his own

pharisaic identity his own religious

existence his own understanding of

himself and of the Jewish religion in

the light of Jesus in order to truly

know who Jesus is he is sadly ignorant

of what real what really is at stake

in encountering this mysterious person

that is Jesus so he's framing Jesus from

his experiences of as a Pharisee and as

a member of the of the governing system

of the Sanhedrin he doesn't see Jesus

for you know that Jesus a huge grenade

in hand that is gonna throw at the

entire system of a Jewish religion and

he actually he is the grenade so Jesus

quickly and abruptly this abuses him in

other words he come he shows him very

quickly Hey

this is not as easy as you think

Nicodemus you know one of the things as

I've thought about this this week many

of you are not familiar with the Puritan

and and their understanding I'm reading

a book right now on the Puritans and

here in New England in the 17th century

and their own understanding and you know

finally I got it this week the Puritans

he placed a huge huge importance on the

conversion experience and they talked

about something that you had to like

really get to a point of almost dying a

point of crisis and their idea was to

get you to that point of absolute

desperation or you know they said on

until you until you grab on to that

until you feel that despair of your

condition until you feel sad and broken

and needy of God's grace until you are

like dying inside you you haven't quite

gotten to where you need to get and so

their whole system it was designed to

lead people to that point in order to

for them to be really like certified I

know it's more complex than that because

in the in my own pastoral experience I'm

sure Greg and others you know who have

been pastors or counselors like dr.

shoots here we know that it's a lengthy

process but there has to be a point it's

like a point of birth when a woman

conceives a child there's a point which

is definitive where life is created life

is generated it is there now there's a

person there and the rest is simply

development and growing complexity but

the absolute process of life has been

there and that's what the new birth is

and you know the Puritans they wanted to

bring people to that point for

conversion for them had to be something

radical something pervasive that

penetrated in every area of their life

and I have become more convinced than

ever that there's this something very

important about that and that there's

something fundamentally wrong with the

way the modern church is presenting the

gospel because we're presenting the

gospel in a much more kind of casual way

like Nicodemus you know we want to make

the gospel accessible and there's

nothing wrong with that

but really unfortunately the gospel is

so much more radical than that it

involves death and involves resurrection

it involves depression about yourself it

involves a recognition of your lostness

it involves a recognition of man I'm

really messed up and I need to find a

way out you know I

this this week is in it's just that the

Lord has been moving me in the past few

weeks and months and a lot of it has to

do with that place there Albany Street

in Massachusetts Avenue how to break

through to people who are really in the

in the deep deep throws of sin but

really everybody is in one way or

another the decent person who has a

wonderful job and a stable life and a

highly developed existence they're in

the same condition and we all need to

have that radical experience please give

me a couple of minutes to go into this

because it really is it is bringing me

me your pastor into into a second

conversion it's really something

extraordinary when you get it see we in

a way I think we are preventing people

from experiencing a true conversion a

born-again experience when Nicodemus

enters through our doors which they do

very often one thing you know a

relationship with Christianity and they

say oh you know that this Christianity

is wonderful I like it you know it's

it's it's a wonderful religion like you

know Buddhism and Hinduism and all the

other religions and yeah it's great

you say yes thank you so much come sit

down and we do not go any further we

were so happy to have them and we say

now receive Jesus and they receive Jesus

but they receive him as one of many

different gods one of many different

options in the smorgasbord of of course

of a religious experience and we it

cannot be that easy that easy

this is what Jesus refuses to do with

Nicodemus this is what Jesus refuses to

do with the rich young ruler he prefers

that they go out and maybe come back

later on but he wants them to know what

it entails to become a believer in Jesus

Christ as we prevent people from going

through that crisis experience and we

just create casual Christians we are

preventing them from truly experiencing

the transformational effect of having

Jesus we should therefore not be too

surprised if that we that this

experience is casual experience produce

as a very weak Christian culture and

very weak Christians entirely unprepared

for the struggles and temptations of the

modern Christian experience which is so

harrowing so ravaging so tempting so

seductive so powerful in its effects

these these wonderful human beings that

I so love and respect that I see many

times in the corner of Albany Street in

Massachusetts I mean I'm just gonna

choose them for a moment there and

that's that's all but I want to use it

because it's much more than that as I've

said before I've come to the conclusion

that in order for them to be freed of

their addiction they require a total

rebirth a deep penetrating experience of

repentance and abhorrence of sin a

complete rejection of their present

lifestyle we will not be able to reach

and they themselves will not be able to

emerge from their addiction they're

there they're deep ravine that they find

themselves unless they are led to a

place of absolute despair despair has to

come before liberation and I realize

that unless unless this there is

submitted to a fire the furnace the lead

in their spirit will not melt away they

need the fire of an encounter with Jesus

Christ we need to somehow facilitate for

them coming to that point until you come

to the point where you realize that you

are lost in whatever it is that you are

in there can be no free no freedom

because ultimately what you are doing is

you are somehow accommodating yourself

and your life to whatever it is that is

possessing you and and and trying to

destroy you you have to come to that

point or realizing this is not some

little demon that I kind of just you

know

take away a little bit away from me no

this is this is a monster that is

preventing me from entering into the

fullness of life that Jesus Christ has

promised and so we do ill with people

when we do not allow them to enter into

that experience of travailing and sand

and perspiration so to speak until you

have come to that point of desperation

you cannot be completely freed of your

struggle we have to grieve for our sin

and we have to somehow find our way to

that point of grieving and repentance

and desperation and the same is true is

the same is true of those that are

dealing with other kinds of bondage I

don't want to just isolate them this is

really where I'm going

whether it is homosexuality alcoholism

sexual bondage of any sort it's the same

and any other put any other name anger

resentment an abusive attitude toward

others money manipulation we all have

our demons that we are fighting with we

all have our our psychological

addictions and unless we come to that

point of submitting them to the fire of

the furnace of a confrontation with

Jesus and end of grieving we will always

just be nibbling at the edges of our

addictions whatever they are it's not

just substance addiction it's addiction

to any attitude anything that that is

that is beyond your capacity to control

you know there's that we have the news

have been full of that about Harvey

Weinstein or wins The Weinstein and you

know Anthony Weiner also in in New York

City you know these men who are in the

throes of sexual addiction and yes how

could they be freed the only way you

know would be through a death experience

as I saw Harvey when Harvey Weinstein's

picture in Time magazine a cruel picture

in my opinion right in the front page of

any human being within in death with

death process and the you know the

entire world has sort of heaping upon

him you know I know this man has done

some horrible horrible

things but that's another story

altogether but as I see this face and as

I see this extraordinarily hyenas

behavior what can three an individual

from something like that what can free a

anthony wiener from the absolutely

destructive lifestyle that he knows is

destructive but he cannot control it it

is only a death experience and immersion

that person may be right now in the hell

that he's experiencing in the the deep

death that he's experiencing to himself

is self-images reputation maybe now

there's a chance and we must pray for

him that somehow the lord will appear to

him or something like that and you know

as i said the same is true for all of us

that are here today including your

preacher in the struggles that we deal

with in our everyday inner life we have

to bring people through that process

there's this image of the metamorphosis

you know in in biology about a

caterpillar being becoming a butterfly

which is an absolutely beautiful example

of this thing of being born again or a

change of nature this ugly creature that

crawls through the floor becoming a kind

of an aerial figure that kind of blesses

the world with its beauty and

multicolored configuration light and you

know just airy why don't want a change

it's a birth process when that

caterpillar encloses itself in the

cocoon and dies to the outside and

enters into an experience that is just

an intimate and alone invisible inside

that cocoon something is happening

something is changing and then it forces

its way out now that has become a

beautiful butterfly a new creature a new

identity almost I mean biologically it's

still flesh but in essence and it or

rather in function and in appearance

it's a major change as close to a new

birth as you could imagine and this is

what Jesus is speaking about how is that

going to happen but you know there's

something very interesting what brought

to my and my attention the association

of you know a caterpillar becoming a

butterfly is also the fact that

you know biologists will tell you that

in in breaking through the cocoon when

the caterpillar has become a butterfly

it if we try to make it easier because

the cocoon is an enclosure the butterfly

pushes through the cocoon and breaks

through the cocoon in order to emerge a

butterfly if we try to make it easier

for the butterfly to to break through

and we kind of take our fingers and we

open ourselves the enclosure to make it

easier we essentially damage the

butterfly because they have discovered

that the very process of breaking

through is a it's a strengthening

process its wings become stronger if we

prevent them from experiencing that the

butterfly cannot fly it will be damaged

and so the breaking through itself is so

important and I believe that in our

desire to attract people into the

Christian faith we have made it easy to

easy to become a Christian we have made

it too easy for the the caterpillar to

become a butterfly we have tried to you

know prevent them from going through the

crisis and the struggles and the giving

up and the dying so we open up the

cocoon for them we take away all kinds

of things we take away the Christian

name of our church we take away the

cross we take away the scandal we take

away many of the things that they have

to struggle the things that have to be

given up and we just want to make it

easier we feel this is clutter let's

take it all away it's not essentially

what we are doing is providing them with

a way to avoid the process of death and

rebirth which is so essential to the

healthy Christian life it's paradoxical

it's ironic I wish it were different but

when you come to Christ you have to die

when you come to Christ there has to be

an absolute change there has to be an

absolute confrontation with yourself

there has to give you ba get there has

to take place a giving up of many things

that you cherish that you love that

bring enjoyment to you that you don't

see any reason why you should give it up

that conflict with your sense of justice

and philosophical coherence and logic

it doesn't matter this is what Jesus has

said this is what his claims are this is

why he is Lord and in trying to take

away the Lord with a capital L and put a

small L in place the church has done a

horrible disfiguration of the gospel and

I want us to understand that ourselves

that in order for us to have a truly

saving experience with Christ we need

like Nicodemus many of us here today I

myself as I say I I've had to come to

another another level of my own faith in

my own journey there's all kinds of

things that need to be dead

need to be given up and you know

actually I'm experiencing a sense of joy

I can't explain it I say that I told my

corrugation at in Wednesday a couple of

Wednesday's ago I'm experiencing

something very similar to what I

experienced 30-some years ago when I was

at Harvard doing my graduate work and

the Lord brought me into an experience

of conversion even though I knew the

Lord before that's a boy and I

experienced the same sense of dying and

I've discovered that dying is not a

metaphor in the Christian faith it is an

actual experience of the soul I was

dying and I was being born to something

else and my my sadness and my melancholy

was also accompanied by a sense of joy

and expectation because I was

discovering the gospel I was discovering

what an authentic Christian experience

was all about and my life was never the

same look at me here 30-some years later

serving the Lord it is a it is a

transformative thing and you see why

Jesus is not content to leave Nicodemus

I'm just saying oh we know that you're a

great teacher you know that you come

from from from God we know that you do

great things because God gives you the

power to do it it Jesus is no it's not

about that I am God I don't come from

God I am God I am the Savior I don't

just do things that you know lead people

to be saved

I am salvation and he who looks at me

with desperation and and the sense of

engagement they will be saved I am that

serpent that Moses lifted

and when they look at me they experience

not just salvation from this life but

salvation in the most extraordinary

thorough sense of the word

so I have we have a background music

that's alright so you know today brows

and sisters we have we have good

Christians we have rather we have gay

Christians we have Christian adulterers

we have Christian addicts we have

Christian dishonest businessmen and we

have all kinds of clubs these days of a

Christians who have accommodated to

their condition you know so we have a we

have a Christianity that is willing to

accommodate every every struggle every

lifestyle that is contrary to the design

of the kingdom of God and we have simply

say yes you can continue with your

practices and as I say its way it can be

anything anything that is contrary to

the the virtues and the character and

the person of Christ the values of the

kingdom that needs to be erased from us

and we need to struggle we need to

declare enmity with these different

conditions and we cannot simply

accommodate okay okay you know that's

the way I am a tiger doesn't change the

stripes I know I'm saved yes you are say

but you know I wouldn't toy around it

with that whole thing of what do you

need to do to be saved I mean I would

just want to make sure by sanctifying

myself as much as possible okay and

besides it gives joy and it gives

happiness to life but this you know

today we have made every effort to help

the butterfly break out of the cocoon

without going through the pain and the

struggle without going through the

process of being a born again so we have

all these different individuals in the

church who have accommodated to their

condition without understanding that

they

to crash violently into Jesus and die to

their beloved addictions and habits and

be reborn into a new life it's it's a as

I say it's it's a difficult thing to for

us to realize but it is the only way

this is what Jesus is trying to say to

Nicodemus through his dialogue Nicodemus

you don't know you don't know who I am

you think you know who I am but this is

not it's about seeing me for who I am

seeing me for what I make possible and

going through the process of yes you

have to go almost into the womb but it's

a different kind of womb and be born

again into a new thing if you want to be

alive it truly you will have to give up

your cherish the condition as a Pharisee

you may become an object of scorn of

your friends you may be rejected by them

you may lose your livelihood you may

lose your house

you may lose your social condition and

image all of those things it's not just

about coming at night as Nicodemus comes

at night trying to hide himself so that

his friends won't see him you see this

what many people do they come to Jesus

at night we all do that in one way or

another because we don't want to lose

all the precious things that we hold so

dear and again you will see that if we

ever get at some point to the the rich

young ruler maybe Greg wants to take

that assignment but you know the rich

young ruler comes to Jesus in despair

what must I do to be saved

and he thinks that Jesus is just saying

oh do this a little here a little dad he

says no you know what you need to say

sell everything give up all your goods

all that you treasure all that you value

and then take up your cross and follow

me wherever I go and he he just couldn't

do it

Jesus preferred for that man to leave in

sadness than to give him an easy way to

enter into the kingdom and artificially

easy way says no you have to die you

have to give up everything and if you

would have done that internally and and

have gone through that process

internally maybe Jesus would have said

to him eh that's where I keep your money

keep your position that's okay but now

understand that I am your owner I got

your number and whenever I need to call

you you better come

because your light belongs to me I own

you see unless we go through that

process you know I I have found great

insight in soul who later became the

Apostle Paul in his conversion

experience if I I haven't even

there's a I haven't gotten into the

description you know that there is an

Anatomy almost of the born-again

experience but lately

I hope I by going from all sides at

least you get a sense of this I have

found great insight in Saul's conversion

experience to give you another

illustration of what I mean here you

know Saul is uh going in his horse the

image of the aggressive man the man in

control the persecuting man the man who

is sure what he believes and who he is

the abusive controlling male in control

of his life in control of himself sure

of who he is and denigrating anybody who

doesn't believe what he believes and and

then he encounters Jesus and what is the

first thing that happens he is thrown

off his horse he falls to the ground

which is an image of what all of us need

to experience our self sufficiency

our sense of justification I'm not like

those people in Albany Street no I'm a

respectable human being look at me here

nicely dressed in a church in Boston

Massachusetts I got a whole bunch of

ties in my closet and so the first thing

that Jesus wants to do is tear that mask

of respectability self-sufficiency

justification harmlessness and says you

are a decrepit horrible the testable

figure that smells bad before the

nostrils of the Living God and so Saul

is thrown on the floor from his high

horse

literally and then interesting in

obvious me he is made blind and helpless

he has to be led out of there by

somebody this Hori powerful man we later

see what kind of a man's soul through

the Apostle Paul a courageous man an

aggressive mad but now dedicated to the

kingdom all that physical Valor that

Paul had that Saul had now transformed

but first he's thrown down from his

horse he is made blind and helpless he

is led like a child away and there he is

inside some apartment dark apartment

just you know can you imagine the crisis

of a man who all of a sudden discovers

that everything he has persecuted

everything that he has disdained and

hated is actually what he must embrace

that he was totally thoroughly

fundamentally wrong about everything

that he thought was right and correct

his world has been thrown in shambles

everything that he's thought was up is

down everything that he thought was

correct is incorrect

everything that he thought was a

travesty is absolutely true who he

thought was the enemy is actually needs

now to be bowed before what a what a

moment of total of evil and I'm

suggesting to you that you know it may

not be that crisis point in our lives

but I think many of us we need to find

our way to something similar if you're

struggling with something in your life

if you are not obtaining the joy that

supposedly is to come from the gospel I

want to suggest to you that first you

need to go into the cocoon and

experience death and and go find a place

under a rock and hide there and smell