Photo by Bob Montanaro, Subject created by God.
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”
29:1 Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy splendor. The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the LORD causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, “Glory!” The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever. May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace! [NRSA]
8:12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh– for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ–if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. [NRSA]
3:1 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. [NRSA]
Life in the Spirit.
One of our core beliefs is that we are created by God and that we have both a physical and a spiritual nature. Regarding these two natures, we have two motivating factors, one is that our bodies will not last for eternity, these bodies will wear out, become diseased, infected, or not hold up to the conditions we experience, and we will all experience death in this body.
(Segway to Memorial Day– )
The second driving force is that our Spiritual nature is equally as real and in need of care as our physical body. Our Spiritual self is nurtured, fortified, and made whole by God’s Grace. This grace is most plainly seen and experienced in Jesus’s restorative work of dying for our sins, but we most often experience this grace through God’s Spirit guiding, inspiring, correcting, and calling us to practice our faith and trust.
The stuff that gets in the way of our bodies maturing, being nurtured, strengthened, and becoming whole, is directly affected by our making poor choices, apathetically taking no action, as well as those that impact our lives by no action of our own.
We eat well or we do not. We rest and exercise or we do not. We avoid risk or we run into it, or it runs into us. We know that we make personal choices about our physical health.
Think about our spiritual health in the same way. We believe or we do not. We follow or are ignored. We trust or we test. We rebel and reject, or we devote ourselves to nurture, exercise, fortify and care for the spiritual self.
Revisiting the Texts:
Throughout the scripture we see that this struggle to become spiritually whole, spiritually healthy, connected most fulling to God, comes from God’s help, God’s strength, God’s restoring and setting us up time and time again.
Isaiah shares a vision from heaven when God sends a holy divine being, a seraph, to touches Isaiah’s lips with a hot coal. This act of cleansing and redemptive sounds horrible, but it is a dramatic image of the to be made whole and clean is not the perfecting of our own thought and behavior, but an action of grace that God makes possible. Thank goodness, lip cleansing is not a ritual of the church. Maybe we would take more seriously our words and thoughts if we connected sin and restorative cleaning.
Psalm 29, the congregation celebrates the need we have to turn to God’s Spirit to complete our spiritual development.
In Jesus’s conversation with Nick, (John 3) is an honest awakening conversation to the dual nature that is core to our identity and reality. It is the mutual, maturity of both our physical and spiritual self that makes us whole, happy, connect, included, good, and righteous.
What does that mean and how would that happen?
Let’s put on our academic and contemporary hats, and realized that modern theology of missiology, our popular understanding of what it means to love our neighbor, invites us to not require people to give up their cultural or personal beliefs to become the culture that we have come to know as normal and acceptable. The danger is that we begin to believe that goodness, righteousness, and Godliness are a lowest common denominator of a sliver of truth that we can all agree about based on our expectations.
Isaiah is called to speak the truth that is make good, clean, true but the redemptive work of God’s spirit and grace.
Psalm 29 calls us to see God is the one who define what is holy, righteous, and good.
Romans 8, Paul is teaching the church that it is God’s Spirit that we follow and not the popularity of whatever the contemporary thought that is acceptable for the day.
John 3, Nick is trying to figure out a physical problem in the name of solving a spiritual crisis. And Jesus moves step by step, helping an open-minded, faith-seeking, leader in society look at life with more than a physical ‘eye’ and perspective. Look through the “eyes” of the spirit. Think of Yoda inviting master Luke in his training to use “the force” to control the physical world.
The So what is this:
We will never be able to solve hunger, disease, political division, the misuse of power, stop the forces of corruption, greed, abuse, and perversion of what is good and Godly, without God’s help.
We trying doing just the physical and expect the spiritual to follow.
It is the combination… We are physical and spiritual children of God and the task is to love those in the world, even as God loves, but to do so with the guidance, power, direction, equipping, and practice of God working through us.
What does this look like in my everyday life?
Our work as the church has two parts: We feed, clothe, comfort, make friends, and include people, FOR THE SPIRITUAL PURPOSE of helping each other follow the Holy Spirit.
- Moses led the people but following God’s call
- Isaiah called people to account for not following the Spirit
- The congregation practices singing the reminders that God is able, faithful, and persistent in working through us.
- Paul is teaching the church to share God’s righteousness
- Jesus is teaching Nick to see the task is not about keeping the law, the rules, the commandments alone, it is keeping our faithfulness in God to guide us.
Our shared ministry is not to keep ourselves pretty, neat, clean, and separate from the world, rather it is fully live IN THE WORLD, with the purpose, mission, goal of bringing people to Spiritual awaking.
- If you want to see people get along,
- If you want to see an end to racism
- If you want to see economic justice
- If you want to see families grow together
- If you want to see an end to poverty and hunger
- If you want to see evil defeated,
The answer is to TRUST GOD’s SPIRIT to lead us and not expect the world, governments, organizations, wealth, or any worldly power to solve what only God can do!!
If you want things to continue to be out of control, then stead the current course and keep handing the responsibility to those who do NOT seek God’s Spirit to solve, and Chaos and Evil will continue to reign!
- Who’s has the power of the Holy Spirit to transform the world? Those who follow the Spirit
- Who’s holds the patent of what is Good, True, and Righteous? God Almighty, Alone!
- Who’s task is to help they world find God’s Spirit as our collective hope and salvation?, Those who trust the Spirit
- Who are those who trust the spirit? Those who are born again.
AM I BORN IN THE SPIRIT?
- Am I aware of my spiritual nature?
- Am I feeding the Spirit in me?
- Am I nurturing and practicing the gifts of the Spirit
- Am I praying, Studying, Teaching, healing, translating, interpreting, calling to accountability the world that is one-track minded and heading over the cliff?
- Am I expecting someone else to do my job?
- Am I going along for the ride afraid God is not able to overcome the evil and problems?
- Am I going to keep quiet, keep to my family, and stay under the radar?
The context of John 3:16-17 is that you and I are able to transform the world when we follow God’s Spirit, Trust God’s Power, and allow our minds and bodies to be guided by the Spirit, FOR THE PURPOSE of revealing God’s heart and will.