Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Born Twice #6: The Blue Screen of death

CHRIST CHURCH NYC Sermon (From 18th of May 2008)
John 3:1-21 (Sermon is from the NRSV)

Let's draw 3 conclusions, and ask 2 questions. This may help us all to know what it means to for someone to be Christian.

First conclusion - This is deeply radical!

The Christian is not simply getting a little religion to round off a good life. The Human life is not 'an otherwise good product' that needs a lick of paint.

The human life needs to be completely remade. And this is radical.

If I can switch metaphors to make the same point: Sin has turned the human heart into the 'Blue Screen of Death'. And the computer needs a new hard drive, not just a dust down.

It's important to note that Nicodemus is a good man: No doubt he pays his taxes, contributes to the economy, and is sincere. He is moral and religious. But Jesus says: "You too need to be born again".

We tend to think of 'born again' people as people who claim religious or moral ground. But Jesus comment is a challenge to morality and to religion, not an affirmation of it. Nicodemus has morality and religion in spades, but Jesus says - Even YOU need to be born from above!

No matter what you are or what have done, you have to start at Ground Zero with God. It’s one of the beautiful things about Christianity: It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter if you are Jew or Gentile; male or female; slave or free; black or white; rich or poor; Republican or Democrat -- every has to start at the beginning.

And that's radical.

Personally, I think its incredible that 'Blue Screen of Death' has a HUGE Wikipedia Entry. Don't you?


Benjamin Ady said...

I don't get that.

I mean, is Jesus saying that ... (well, to spastically stretch the metaphor) that all newborns are the same weight/height?

How exclusive do you see it to be? I mean--is Jesus demanding (that is, requiring) that Nicodemus ... *do* something? Does not his previous personal development ... *matter*? Does anything that has happened to him before, and/or any processes he's taken part in before, count toward "being born again"? Is Jesus talking about something that may happen (at least partially) in the here and now, or is he talking about something that happens in the later on (whatever that means)--

Could Nicodemus *already* have been born again?

When does a person become *aware*, at some level, that they were born? I mean in the normal sense of the word? In some ways, the answer to this question is "a long time later"

How much *control* does a person have over their own birth? Answer: Zero.

So is Jesus saying "There's this process that will happen to you, and then you'll be able to see the kingdom of God" in the same sense that a big brother might lean down next to mom's belly and say "You're gonna be born, and then you'll be able to *see* us!" with a sort of deligted excitement?

Maybe, ala Romans 5:18, Jesus is saying that people will be born a second time just as they were born a first time--that all people will become able to see and experience God's kingdom, eventually, just as, perhaps, God will rescue/enliven.../miraculously correct all the stillbirths, abortions, and other such prenatal and early postnatal tragedies that happen to smallish people, and we'll get to meet them all someday?

xukes. No doubt I've typed at least two heresies above. Ah well. Here's to heresy and hard cider (but not while pregnant).

Benjamin Ady said...

when you say "deeply radical", I'm thinking "like, the 32nd root. Or the nth root, with n greater than ... 436,249."

I think the ... cultural divide you mention is not so much between "born agains" and "others" as between "moderns" and "post-moderns". It seems possible to me that moderns would be interested in sort of nailing down "born again means *this*", while post moderns would kind of be against that approach (down with metanarrative (cause it can be *so* freaking arrogant!)!), and would want to say "Well, what does born again mean to *you*?"

*maybe* the postmoderns would have an easier time being better listeners.

I wonder if Islam makes use of a similar metaphor--born again?

Benjamin Ady said...

Note my thoroughly post modern use of phrases like "It seems possible to me that ..."