Nicodemus to Jesus: How do I do that?
Jesus to Nicodemus: No one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born by water and Spirit.
If I were Nicodemus, my next word would be “Huh?” Jesus’ explanation only confuses me more:
“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?”
“No, I don’t!” I would cry. But recently, I've began to grasp it - I think... Jesus is talking about operating systems, as with computers. We run on OS/Human (“flesh”). God-Life, or Kingdom life, runs on OS/God (“Spirit”). If we want to apprehend God-Life, our hardware needs to run OS/God. Human programs can run on OS/God; God programs don’t run so well on OS/Human.
If technology metaphors don’t work for you, this explanation may be worse than Jesus’. I think he is saying that flesh and spirit offer different ways of perceiving reality – “If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?” We will need to operate from our spiritual senses if we want to dwell in God’s light and grow in our knowledge and love of God.
We are hardwired for OS/Human – our natural tendency is to trust only what we can see and touch. We need new programming to run OS/God – and the Good News is that it’s easy to download! Just accept the User Agreement (aka, baptism, or any time we say, “Yes, Lord, I believe…”) and let it install. God’s operating system doesn’t replace ours; we can run both – though that can be quite a drain on our batteries. And it can be hard to transition to OS/God – we know how to do things with our old operating system; living by faith in the spiritual realm comes with a bit of a learning curve. Just think of a time you’ve adopted new technology or new computer programs, and you’ll get the analogy…
Jesus was able to run human programs through OS/God. As we download his life into ours, we become better able to run the Spirit system. And as we make the transition to using OS/God more and more, we’ll find it gradually becoming our default setting, and we’ll run more and more of our programs on it. And here’s a really nice benefit – OS/God doesn’t deplete us. It ships with a built-in power supply that recharges even as we use it. Nifty, huh?
Now that I’ve run that metaphor into the ground, how do we pray this today? Here's a question to explore: What areas of your life you think about entirely in human terms, and in which ones do the Spirit and faith call the shots? Is there a way to bring a more spiritual perspective to the areas that feel like “just human?” Can we invite the Holy Spirit to rewire us so that we perceive with spirit more and more?
I highly recommend transitioning our programs for perceiving, receiving and giving to OS/God.We become so much more peaceful and effective. And upgrades are free for our lifetime – and to infinity!