“People don’t resist change, they resist loss. And most change produces loss.”
– Quote from Nazarene Youth Leadership Conference 2017
I heard this quote during our final session yesterday, and while it certainly struck me during our session, I found myself revisiting the quote after reading the Gospel reading from Wednesday’s devotion – John 2:22-3:15.
If you haven’t read the passage yet, a quick summarization is that a religious leader by the name of Nicodemus comes to Jesus to inquire about his true identity. Jesus stumps him with the statement that unless an individual is born again, he or she cannot see the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus, though a smart and educated man, is a bit dumbfounded by Jesus’ response, and they go back and forth before Nicodemus seemingly gives up his quest to understand.
This is quite the conversation! We have a Pharisee, one of the religious groups that opposed Jesus’ Messianic claims, who is curious and seemingly interested in discovering who Jesus is. But there’s a catch. In v. 2, two small words stand out above the rest: “at night.”
You might be asking, “Why is this important? Do those two words really make a difference here?”
You see, Nicodemus was afraid of the potential loss associated with this conversation. He couldn’t possibly be seen having an authentic conversation with Jesus…he’d face ridicule, and maybe even face damaging political and social repercussions because of this. And so he comes in the thick of night.
In other words, Nicodemus resists loss. This is further evidenced by the fact that when Jesus dives deeper into who he is as the Messiah and what it means to be a follower of him, Nicodemus fades from the story and we don’t encounter him again…until John 7, and also John 19. And in those places, it seems like he is still wrestling with the losses that a change of allegiances could produce.
Lent is a season of surrender. A season of loss. It’s a time for us to pause and reflect upon the Jesus’ journey to the cross, as well as his invitation to us to join him in laying down our lives and picking up our crosses.
And so if you haven’t yet, I encourage you to ask God what that might be this Lenten season.
What might God be calling you to lose?
What might God be calling you to surrender?
Could you…would you…give it up?
Eternal and merciful Father, help us to be okay with losing that we may gain. Help us to loosen our grip over our possessions and our desires for our lives, and to hold fast to your great and precious promises. Empty us, that we may be filled with you.
~ Pastor Joe