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Step Into the Windby Laurel A. Dykstra
The call to new life as children of God is central to the gospel of John. Nicodemus—pious and faithful Pharisee, leader of the Jews, teacher of Israel—comes to Jesus by night and is told he must be born from above.
Nicodemus has much to teach First World Christians and people of privilege. His repeated question—“How can this be?”—echoes other wonderful birth stories. In one sense Nicodemus doesn’t get it—“Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:4)—but what he clearly gets is that new birth requires new growing up. For those of us who have grown up allied with power, who have benefited from structures as they are, giving up the old life means loss. We, like Nicodemus, have much to lose. Like Abraham, we are called to leave everything we know, everything that gives us security, status, and comfort.
Nicodemus protests and Jesus answers, “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” (John 3:8). Nicodemus, step into the wind.
Nicodemus understands, but he cannot bring himself to do it. He will not declare himself and gradually fades out of the conversation. He appears twice again in John, each time offering safe liberal niceties in place of true allegiance.
In deliberate contrast to Nicodemus, a man of high standing, is the Samaritan woman in next week’s gospel. Jesus approaches her, a colonized woman, and she engages with him tenaciously.
Laurel A. Dykstra, author of Set Them Free: The Other Side of Exodus, was a scripture and justice educator living in Vancouver, British Columbia when this article appeared.
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