Nicodemus comes at night but eventually sees the light of day. Later in the Gospel Nicodemus along with Joseph of Arimathea is listed as a "follower of Jesus, only secretly for fear." We get all hung up on the "Born Again" language and the word "must". Here's what I think the passage is telling us: we are born with profound spiritual capacity -- physical creatures carrying the broken image of God within us. This spiritual capacity needs to be activated by a touch from God. That touch comes in so may and diverse ways as to be impossible to count. Some are spiritually awakened by a vista view, others by the kindness of strangers, others by beauty of music and art and others through tragedy and disaster. Each of us, to be fully alive, needs to be awakened -- to be born from above (anew!). Don't be surprised, don't be astonished, but look for the grace and love of God to awaken you.
The New Testament teaches that the world and all its residents are lost. It is a sinking ship. God, in his infinite mercy, has sent a life line. The life line is Jesus. There is no point in complaining that we want other options or don't like the option God has given. There is no point at all. We are drowning, there is a life preserver. Will I grab on with both hands? Or will I go down? (John 3:17-21).
As a preacher of the gospel and a pastor, one of my favorite sentences in the gospel is John 3:30. John the Baptist says "he must increase, but I must decrease." I once preached in a church that had John 12:21 pasted on the pulpit where only the preacher could read it. It said: "Sir, we would see Jesus!". Good advice for any preacher. I think this is the same idea from John the Baptizer -- Jesus must increase and I must fade to the background. The more of Jesus people see in me the better. Trouble, sorrow and difficulty all arise when we make this journey "all about me" and not about Jesus, his message, his life, HIS story.
One of my young musician friends Jen, sent me a link on facebook today about a John Waller song titled "Somebody Else's Story". It is this passage in miniature. All I want is to be used by God to matter in the lives of others -- to be the light, the comfort, the challenge, the grace -- the channel of God's love, mercy and grace.