The clear focus of this week’s readings is the idea of faith or believing. Abram, believing God’s promise, sets out from his home to a new land. The Psalm expresses deep faith in the God who protects and cares for God’s people. Paul emphasises Abraham’s faith as the doorway into relationship with God, and invites believers to embrace a similar faith in Christ. And Nicodemus, coming to Jesus in the night, is invited to be born again, born from above, in order to see God’s reign, and to recognise that Jesus is the one who came to bring life – salvation – to those who believe.
The call to faith is unavoidable here, but, of course, the question it raises is this: what is faith? Is it simply an intellectual agreement with certain propositions? Or is it something deeper? The key lies in the conversation with Nicodemus, where faith and the new birth are brought together by Jesus. This faith, then, is not just accepting ideas in the mind. It is an experience of new birth. It is a completely new way of being that enables us to ‘see’, to ‘know’ God’s reign and then to live out of this new birth as leaves driven by the wind. This is certainly more than just signing a pledge card, or praying a specific prayer in order to be “saved”. This believing is completely transforming, and must, therefore, like birth and the life which follows it, be a growing, developing experience that is embraced anew each day.
This week the Lectionary allows us to eavesdrop on a conversation about faith between Jesus and a rather hesitant visitor who comes to him at night – and what Nicodemus heard from Jesus was both shocking and surprising. We also come to worship in faith this week. May we leave empowered to put that faith into action in our daily lives.