Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of five columns written by Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. executive director, to mark 100 […]
Byron Pellecer is Associate Conference Minister for Western District Conference.
While living and planting a church in Wichita, Kansas, my wife and I decided to go out to get a glance of the city and to run some errands. After a long day, we were tired and hungry.
As we were heading back home, I looked through my car window and I saw this restaurant that had a sign that said, “Under new management.” Despite the enticing legend of the sign, we decided that it was best for us to go home and enjoy a home cooked meal.
That sign at the restaurant reminded me that a new beginning, a new way of relating with God, starts with Jesus. He is our new beginning and in him we are under new management.
From time to time, I find myself reflecting on the narrative of Nicodemus and Jesus’ conversation as depicted in John 3.
Nicodemus’ approach to Jesus is fascinating. The conversation between them needs to be seen with eyes of hope for a better tomorrow, whatever that means for each one of us and with the expectation that we will experience God’s kingdom in various ways.
The gospels show Jesus constantly interacting with all kinds of people. In many situations, we see Jesus surrounded by people with or without means, with believers and non-believers, and people including lawyers who were constantly asking “tricky” questions.
Jesus is laying out a new proposal for Nicodemus. Nicodemus needs to be under new management, under a new perspective in life, and he needs to be born again.
Nicodemus was longing to experience something different and relevant to his life. He seems to be on a quest for that something that can make him a better human being and for a new way of relating with God.
What we see in this illustration is that a radical change in one’s life must happen. Humanity being born again is an act of God out of love for humanity, but it also deserves a human response.
Maybe we are not so different from Nicodemus. There is a lot of stuff in the Bible that we do not understand. There are many things in life that we do not know why they happen or how to respond. It could be that we have been longing for a new chance in life, for a new beginning, just as Nicodemus was.
Being born again changes everything. People are made new and the old ways no longer have power in their lives. It is a new lifestyle made possible through Christ and through the presence of the Holy Spirit. God wants to put our lives under new management under Jesus Christ.
Today’s proposal is to experience God through a closer relationship. God sent Jesus to start something new in the world and in our lives. Therefore, it is through church planting and evangelism that our relatives, neighbors and friends may get to experience newness of life just like Nicodemus.
In the days ahead of us, may we continue being fully engaged in the Great Commission.
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