For each of us there are things in life we don’t want to miss out on. When that thing comes up, whether it be an event or a gathering or something else, we do whatever it takes to go. If you have to miss it, sometimes the only way to stop yourself from being bummed out is to not think about it or distract yourself with something else. For those of you who are giving up something during Lent, this may be the tactic you use. If you remove yourself from the thing you are trying to avoid, you handle the loss better. By now, most of you know my opinion on giving something up for Lent—I’d rather see you start a new habit rather than give up something. But regardless, if your avoidance of a specific item helps you focus on Jesus, then praise be to Jesus!
I love live music. Sometimes I forget how much I love live music until I see it again and realize how much I’ve missed it. At times the Grammy’s or the iHeart Music Awards are enough to remind me how much I love it. Yet usually I get focused on the many other things I have to do in life and forget all about it again. Recently, John Mayer had tickets go on sale for his new tour. Sadly, the tour was not coming through St. Louis, and the closest stops were Chicago and Kansas City. I tried to forget about ticket sales starting and just remove the whole thing from my mind, but that didn’t work. Instead I found myself texting a friend who lives in Chicago to see if he wanted to go. It wasn’t going to work for him because his baby is due close to the concert date. Next I texted my brother to see if he wanted to go to the show in Kansas City, but he is going to a concert the night before, so it wouldn’t work for him either. The day the tickets went on sale I still attempted to get tickets even though I didn’t have anyone to go with yet. I got pretty good seats on my first try, but gave them up thinking I could get better ones. When I tried again, just in that short time, the available seats were quite high in the venue, so I gave up and thought I can just buy the cheap seats later if I decide to go. You can imagine my disappointment when the concert sold out! John Mayer released another stop on the tour and I thought I had second chance, but still no St. Louis dates. I tried to convince myself that I am older now, and with kids around I can’t see him every time he has a tour, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit how bummed I am that I will be missing out.
Why do I tell you all of this? Most of you probably don’t care about missing out on John Mayer’s tour, but you care about missing out on something, and you know that feeling when you really want to do something but just can’t. It bothers you. And while you might try to ignore it, you find yourself looking for ways to justify going, or trying to tell yourself that you don’t care, when deep down you know you really do.
This weekend in our text Nicodemus meets Jesus. During my reading and preparation, the Holy Spirit helped these words of Jesus jump out at me, “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus was a man who knew God, and he knew he did not want to miss out on the kingdom of God. It mattered to him. It would be like missing out on a John Mayer concert. Ok, it is way bigger than that, but you get my point.
Here’s the sad part, in an unchurched culture, there are many people who just don’t care about missing out on seeing the kingdom of God, or they have convinced themselves that they will see heaven because they are “good enough.” If Jesus were to say these same words (the ones above) to them, they would just say who cares, or there isn’t a heaven anyway. We can’t even get to the point of talking to them about baptism or anything else because they don’t think they are missing out on anything. Nicodemus had a strong motivation not to miss out on the kingdom of heaven. Here Jesus was talking to a person of faith, and therefore he had something to build on. What stood out to me is that we may read passages and have great enthusiasm to tell our friends and neighbors, but all that might be lost on them if they are not in a place to know they are missing out.
So now what? How do we help get them there? Unfortunately, I think if their families did not lay a faith foundation, then they have to hit a rock bottom moment to get there. Since we are born into sin we think we can handle things on our own, and when we think that, we don’t see a need for God. There has to be a rock bottom moment for us to get to the place to realize we need Jesus. And the only way we can help them is to be there when they hit that rock bottom moment. For our relationship, it means we have to be intentionally in their lives, so they know they can count on us when those rock bottom moments happen. This Lenten season I pray that you discover the people who you are talking with that may not be worried about missing out on heaven, as well as look for ways to introduce conversations of faith in your intentional relationships.
This weekend is CCLS Sunday. Christian day school provides another avenue to help families “get there” because the Christian faith is introduced at school. Since CCLS continues to strive for excellence, it attracts Christian and non-Christian families alike. This allows the children to see why not entering the kingdom of God would be so sad, and therefore starts conversations with families who may have never cared about this before. This is just one of the reasons our partnership with CCLS is so important and why we take time to celebrate it.