The Power in the Middle
1 There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a Jewish leader. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could do these miraculous signs that you do unless God is with him.”
3 Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born anew, it’s not possible to see God’s kingdom.”
4 Nicodemus asked, “How is it possible for an adult to be born? It’s impossible to enter the mother’s womb for a second time and be born, isn’t it?”
5 Jesus answered, “I assure you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. 6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Don’t be surprised that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ 8 God’s Spirit blows wherever it wishes. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. It’s the same with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said, “How are these things possible?”
10 “Jesus answered, “You are a teacher of Israel and you don’t know these things? 11 I assure you that we speak about what we know and testify about what we have seen, but you don’t receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has gone up to heaven except the one who came down from heaven, the Human One. 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so must the Human One be lifted up 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. 16 God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. 17 God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
John 3:1-15 CEB
Nicodemus has been on my mind for the past three or so years. He reminds us we can't paint all the Pharisees as bad. There was at least one, Nicodemus, who didn't want to follow the status quo. He wasn't playing Caiaphas' game. He wanted to seek advice from Jesus... in the middle of the night. What's up with that? Why would a Pharisee go in the middle of the night to seek Jesus' advice? Because he didn't want anyone to know! That little weasel wanted his cake and to eat it too! He wanted to be able to seek discipleship from Jesus while still being able to hang out with the other Pharisees!
Speaking from experience, when I garner support: I love the cheerleaders. I love those people who openly advocate for the position I'm trying to raise up. They become the real movers and shakers in the process. I am saddened by those who blatantly fight the position for no other reason than they don't like it. (Some cheerleaders give me practical advice, so the ones who blatantly fight are not helpful in the least.) Finally, I am always frustrated by those who quietly cheer in the background. They are the ones who come out of the woodwork when no one is around and say basically the same thing, "Melissa, we love you. We want to support you, but we can't. We are on the losing side of this battle. I've got my own issues to deal with."
It frustrates me because if all those "playing it safe people" would speak up, there would actually be some real change in this world. I want to be angry at Nicodemus, and those like him. I want to get to some old fashion table flipping... but I can't. Jesus might have done that to the other Pharisees, the ones who were blatantly misusing the temple, but not with Nicodemus. With Nicodemus, he just spoke the truth. Eventually, Nicodemus would come out of the woodwork during the sanitizing light of day. True, it would be with Joseph of Arimathea to bury Jesus, but he would willingly state what he believed when all the chips were down. Could that have happened if Jesus berated him in private? I doubt it. I've got this sneaky feeling Jesus could have been frustrated too. In the end, all you can do is follow Jesus' example. In your frustration, speak the truth in love. Maybe that truth won't take root in the moment. Instead, maybe that truth will be like a seed, and years later, when you are not even present with that person, they will begin to blossom and take your truth to heart.