Today’s texts from Genesis and John are talking about the inauguration of a new race of human beings who are blessed and born of the very same “stuff” that God is made of (i.e. the “Spirit”). Both texts agree that though there is much in the world that needs to be put right and even outright condemned, nevertheless, God is so in love with us that he will find a way for us to live forever with him.
Abram’s story offers readers the example of a man whose life was changed by his faith and who altered the course of history as well. John’s readers learn through Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus that our lives (the “earthly things” of John 3:12) can truly be transformed by God and that Jesus himself is a trustworthy guide to the good things God has in store for those who believe. In our own day, we need do nothing more than to look up to Jesus to begin living our eternal lives now.
Whereas religion offers us totems for our salvation (forbidden fruit, blessings and curses, serpents in the wilderness — even perhaps images of Jesus himself), Abram and Jesus show us the kind of faith we need to have eternal life: simple but costly. Abram left everything he knew; Jesus gave up his life to be “lifted up” on the cross, because both believed in the promises God made to them. God’s faithfulness to them means our faith is not in vain. Both had faith in God’s promise for a second chance for humanity. Our faith must be just as bold.
Preached by the Rev. Jake Dell on March 12, 2017 at Holy Trinity Church Inwood.