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There are many modern day Nicodemuses walking the cities in the night hour in search of answers to questions that may never be asked at public functions. Some have come close to several Christians who rather than listen to the meta-message were carried away by the “generosity” of these souls in search of meaning for life or by the glowing attributes paid to them. Rather than hearing their frustrations with flamboyant life, they are recognized as celebrities. They are made to sit in special pews without answers to their questions.


Biodun Coker
Pastor
RCCG-CHRIST CHURCH
Arlington, Texas
Christlike Reflections

Pastor Biodun Coker

THE CORE QUESTIONS (PART 1)

 

In the heart of every person in every nation are some questions seeking for answers. The searches for answers take people to covens, mountains and valleys.

These questions seeking for answers may generally account for why people act up. These questions are at the core of every person. A core is the essential, fundamental and central part of a thing. It contributes to what and who a person is and what that person believes in. It is the innermost layer that is revealed when the sophisticated and rationalistic outer coatings are removed. Core questions then are fundamentally significant questions seeking for answers. They are rarely asked at public gatherings. Sometimes they come in form of parables and illustrations. Sometimes they are cited as a question about a friend that lives in a far away country. People ask these questions for several years without anyone really listening to the meta-message- the message in a message. Sometimes, the questions become theological or doctrinal arguments and still leave the inquirer with no answer after dissipation of energy. . Such argument often presents itself as lack of affection which is interpreted to mean "no one cares”. It is at this point that people generally start to act up. This may be the unanswered core questions shouting for help. Of course, the society has a way of answering the questions with her judgment of what is considered as deviant behaviors. The first of these unanswered questions touches on salvation and redemption. It comes in different forms- “who shall deliver me from this body of sin?” “how shall I be saved from guilt and fear”  and those that ‘dislike’ me? Remember that it is so easy to feel disliked when you don’t like who you are. Sometimes, some of the unanswered questions become spoken by sighing.

I have often wondered at the behavior of a member of the ruling council in the days of Jesus named Nicodemus in the gospel of John chapter 3. He was a rich member of the council who came to consult with Jesus in the night. The issue at the core of his heart and life must have caused him chronic insomnia that losing one more night of sleep in search of a solution was not an inconvenience to him at all. His night call may have been for fear of being excommunicated or perhaps a need to have Jesus’ maximum attention at this hour of the night. All in all, his question was not something to be discussed in the public. As a member of the ruling council, he was circumcised and expectedly well versed in the letters. Jesus called him “A master of Israel”. It was obvious he was not coming for bible study or any other ritual. On the face value, he was a complete man and nothing (physical, emotional or financial) could ever suggest a need in the life of this man. He started his interaction by paying glowing tributes to Jesus by referring to him as a teacher that is from God. He even exposed others who did not come for he became the group’s spokesperson. He said “We know that you are a teacher come from God". He acknowledged the approval of God on Jesus’ ministry which is not upon them as the ruling elites. That is one sentence that would have made any globe-trotting, Tele-evangelist head swell but not so for Jesus. He was a listener. He heard the meta-message. He heard the heart cry of Nicodemus. He reached out to the core of his troubled life. He was able to connect with the struggle of a man in ministry, with several credentials yet doubting and seeking divine approval. Jesus saw into the innermost being of Nicodemus and that was what the encounter focused on. Nicodemus’ core question was “what makes you unique and different from us?”

This would no doubt have being an opportunity for Jesus to raise some money for his ministry as the one who came consulting was rich. Jesus knew better. He focused on the one fundamental thing that makes the difference between mere existence and purposeful, victorious living-the new birth. He declared “except a man be born again… It was a deeper truth for Nicodemus. It exposed his ignorance as “a master” in the land. Have you ever watched a public figure that has answers to everything having his or her tongue tied when confronted with what he or she does not know?  That was the case of Nicodemus. In this night hour however, he could asked the core questions without fear of excommunication or any feeling of shame for being ignorant of the divine truth. Jesus did not hide the truth from him. He knew of his core questions. He did not keep anything away from him for the fear of offending this wealthy man. He saw a man in need of answers to deepest questions in the innermost recess of his heart. He was presented with a fundamental principle of life. A cow gives birth to a cow so does a dog to a dog. A man will therefore give birth to a man. If therefore Nicodemus has believed that he is from God and that God is with him, it must be that he was born of God. Jesus then made it known that that same experience is available for “any man”. He made it known that it was not an experience only for the elites but for “any man”- men from any nation, race or tribe, tall or short, rich or poor, employer or employee, moral or immoral. An experience that is available for men of every rank and file. That was a bit confusing for Nicodemus of the chosen race who was looking for something that may give him an edge over others or something that will keep his rank in the society.

His answer to the proposition reveals that he was happy that someone could answer his innermost questions this time around. He was not ready to beat about the bush any longer. Someone that was paying glowing attribute a while ago became instantly inquisitive. It was needless hiding his need anymore. He asked a sincere question that any honest and truthful person will ask because he did not understand what it means to be born from above. He wondered how an old man will be able to go back into his mother’s womb to be born again. “Can a man enter the second time into his mother's womb and be born?” Jn 3:4 .Jesus Christ declared that if this were possible, it would still not change anything as whatever is born of the flesh remain flesh .Every plant will forever be of the nature of the seed that brought if forth. The greatest challenge to understanding spiritual truth is pride. It takes humility to unlearn what has been learned in order to learn knew things.  When a man cannot humble himself to learn divine truth, he casts his own idea in stones. He becomes recalcitrant and his conduct becomes burdensome. Dear friend, is this your current experience? Is there an issue that is bothering you? Is there a core question about being “born again” though you are an elder? Are you tired of your condition and you are asking “who will deliver me from this guilt and fear?" Will you rather own up to a need for learning instead of rationalizing? Will you be humble to learn rather than holding on to your own ideas? Will you be sincere like Nicodemus to seek God? “And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jer 29:13

Jesus spoke emphatically of Nicodemus’ need for spiritual birth- the second birth. The first birth is the beginning of earthly life which introduces us into a world of sin. To be delivered from the hold of this world, every man must be born from above. The second birth connects every man back to God. Nothing can satisfy the longing for this connection. Men have sought for several things in place of this connection and nothing else seems to have worked. This new birth is the beginning of spiritual life. It affords us the rare opportunity to live purposefully or put succinctly by Rick Warren-to be purpose driven. It is the time that we are adopted into the family of God-no longer strangers but heirs together of the grace of God. Without this second birth, no man can fit into and partake of the divine nature and the blessings that Nicodemus observed of Jesus.

There are many modern day Nicodemuses walking the cities in the night hour in search of answers to questions that may never be asked at public functions. Some have come close to several Christians who rather than listen to the meta-message were carried away by the “generosity” of these souls in search of meaning for life or by the glowing attributes paid to them. Rather than hearing their frustrations with flamboyant life, they are recognized as celebrities. They are made to sit in special pews without answers to their questions. Rather than using such a time of being alone to explore several of their unanswered questions; sometimes, believers delve into frivolities and left such people wondering if any one cares at all. It is time to hear the rumblings that is going on in the hearts of our friends, family members and neighbors. That is one of the things that made our Jesus Christ unique.

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