Keeping it Simple with 3 C's
This week in our Lenten Journey of Being C Students we are going to keep it simple. There was a time when the fundamentals, basics, mainstays of education were referred to as “The Three R’s”; Reading, Writing and ‘Rithmetic (sic). That always seemed like an odd thing as one had to misspell one of the words to get 3 R’s. Lest I diverge… we are going to focus on 3 C’s: confusion, condemnation and confession. And we are going to keep it simple (please note simple and easy are distinct from one another- here is a blog written by someone exploring that).
Confusion. Nicodemus- well educated, esteemed, in a position of authority and confused by Jesus. We will read John 3:1-21 this weekend to place into context one of the best known bible verses. Nicodemus is confused and confounded by Jesus. They seem to be having one of those exchanges where they are in conversation with one another but talking about different topics.
In The Chosen television series the scene of Jesus and Nicodemus gave me a different perspective on this well known story. Here is that scene on YouTube . Part of our journey of being students is allowing for times of confusion and not knowing. Seeing something new and different, not sure what all of it means can be a state of confusion. The way that Nicodemus is portrayed speaks to that confusion.
The way Jesus responds to Nicodemus' questions and confusion doesn't eliminate them- Jesus may even be increasing them as Jesus speaks of wind and spirit. The Greek word for wind and spirit is the same word. Speaking as a wisdom teacher, Jesus invites the question, the curiosity and seems quite comfortable with the confusion.
Condemnation. John 3:16 has a context. The verse that follows, John 3:17, doesn’t seem to make the posters held up at football games. It matters.
John 3:17 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.
The Greek word for saved (sozo) can also be translated as healed, rescued, and preserved. This is for the here now- to be healed, saved, rescued, preserved to live the life God has given you now. This gift of eternal life is not just for the hereafter, it’s for the here now time. The life that Jesus gives is to be lived fully and freely.
In Ephesians 2:1-10 we read that this is not of our own doing- it is grace, it is gift and it for us to live in now. It’s a here and now life we are invited into as Jesus’ followers and our part is not the condemnation of ourselves or others. It is to allow for our healing, our being made whole, our being restored to what God has made us.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing, it is a gift of God- not the result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Confession. Let it go. This is the opportunity each and every time we offer up our confessions. We let go of that which weighs us down and worries us. We admit, freely, that we have missed the mark. We have said, done and thought things that condemn ourselves and one another. The understanding of sin as the archer whose arrow misses the mark is helpful to me. The game isn't over I get to discern what to do next time to hit the target.
Recently, in a daily devotion Father Richard Rohr shares 13 biases identified by Brian McLaren that get in our way of seeing. When we don’t know better, we can’t do better. When you can’t see the target, you miss it. Our biases are blindspots that get in the way. Indeed, there are times when we do see and know what is spot on to say, do, and think and with full awareness and knowledge do the opposite, or don’t do what as followers of Jesus (seeking to live informed and fueled by his love) we should do.
Yet so often, our sin is us stuck in the same old/same old. And we don't know it. The same old patterns of self-seeking, selfishness, power-seeking, fear-driven thoughts and behaviors are habitual. Confession is an opportunity to ask for help as we seek understanding and insight and the Spirit's help to let those patterns go. By naming them and placing our sin into the tender loving care of God, we begin to allow light to come into the dark places.
There is a life time of learning to be had in this journey of following Jesus. One day, one hour, one moment at a time. I hope you will join me in letting in the grace that is saving us, healing us, rescuing us and preserving for us an eternal life in the here now. This moment, place and time are where the wind and Spirt blow.
Even as we do not know from whence it came, or where it will go we hear the wind, we feel the wind, we see what the wind blows. Despite our confusion Love saves us. Even when we are in those places of condemnation of ourselves or others Love frees us. And so we are saved and freed to confess that eternal life is not of our own doing or deserving . This Love God has and freely gives to the world, we let in. May this be a gift you let in one breath at a time. Let's keep it simple and let Love have the run of the house.