Today’s readings from the Genesis 12 and the Gospel of John chapter 3 are our stories and they are more than just biblical stories about other people in a different place and time. The church, family and our nations’ journey of faith today suggests a journey through darkness and the need to come to Jesus in our nighttime for salvation and deliverance. The truth is that we all step into the nighttime of our lives ‘through a call from God, a crisis of faith, or the circumstances of our lives’ just as Abraham’s and Nicodemus’s stability and predictability of life were disrupted. Nighttime are ‘times and places in our lives when we feel isolated and alone … the times when we are afraid, when we are powerless, or when we feel unprepared for and overwhelmed by what lies ahead … times when we feel like strangers in a foreign land’

Nighttime are times when religion is out of fashion, times when people are ashamed to be seen with or remaining faithful with Jesus Christ, therefore many come in the night, secretly like Nicodemus. Life of faith is born of the Holy Spirit and not something we manufacture or redefine to suit our comfort and pleasurable desires. In John chapter 3, Nicodemus, a Pharisee and Jewish leader, arrives at night, a time of unbelief, ignorance, and temptation. The family, church and nations in the nighttime of life suggests a very difficult place and experience of confusion, denial, and a sense of being lost. Just as Nicodemus came to Jesus, perhaps does not want his colleagues to know, today, families, churches and nations are facing time of faith decline and curiosity praising Jesus with one side of the mouth and unbelief on the other side. The confusion of Nicodemus is the same confusion facing the family, the church and many nations today, that is, the difference between Spirit and flesh. The misunderstanding of Nicodemus about Jesus resonates with that of the family, church and many nations, taking Jesus’ words literally.

The solution to nighttime of fear, pride, ignorance, decline and epidemics in the family, church and our nations is to yield to the new life of faith that Jesus offers. Life of Christian faith is not an achievement or titles. Using the words of Charles Wesley, Christian faith a life from above that ONLY Jesus gives in order to impart the pure celestial fire and it is this fire that kindle a flame of sacred love on the mean altar of human heart. The Greek word translated “from above” can also mean “again,” hence to be born of the Holy Spirit is to receive God’s gift of eternal life, a transformed mode of life.

The way Jesus saw the real need of Nicodemus in response to his question “How can a man be born again when he is old,” resonates with the way God saw and responded to the need of the world by sending His Only begotten Son to save us. Nicodemus’s question is still relevant today on the possibility for us, as individuals, churches, nations, and as a congregation, to experience new life and a new birth when we have grown old.  Practically, many have grown old in age, in church membership, grown old in sin, grown old in theology and philosophy, grown old in attending church meeting, grown old in preaching, church trustee and committee membership, yet without new life. Though, ‘always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth’ (2 Tim 3:7). The heart of the matter is the need for the heart of man to be born again. Birth is the beginning of life. Bearing in mind that through our first birth, we are corrupt and sharpen in sin, the New Birth is a transformation of the heart by the Holy Spirit which enables us to see and experience fullness of life in the kingdom of God. This new birth is from heaven, and its tendency is to heaven. It is a great change made in the heart of a sinner, by the power of the Holy Spirit. John Wesley was 13 years old post-ordination as a minister in the Church of England until May 24, 1738, when he felt is heart strangely warmed. Until we yield and receive God’s undeserved and all encompassing love through our personal repentance, all other kind of love may amount to human invention.

The Good News for the old Nicodemites, even in our personal, church and national nighttime when we have grown old physically, spiritually and emotionally, we must not be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The family, the Church, and nations in nighttime calls the Nicodemus that have grown old in each of us to a time of surrendering to God, letting ourselves be born anew, and opening ourselves to God’s plans and purposes for our family, the church and nations. The Church in a nighttime in relation to the stories of Abraham and Nicodemus warns us not to allow our ideas about God, expectations, and anticipations to keep us from obeying God’s Word. The Abraham in each of us at the age of 75 with the idea to become the father of a great nation may be difficult to believe just as the Nicodemus in each of us have ideas of how God would act rather than the call to be born again as a child. The Abraham and Nicodemus in each of us in relation to the Church in a nighttime warns against the danger of life in the flesh and temptation to ignore and dismiss Christ’s offer of new life of faith.