Summary: Exercise Your Curiosity Correctly 1) The curiosity of unbelief questions God’s ways 2) The curiosity of faith accepts God’s answers
Curiosity killed the cat. At least that’s what people say when you’re asking questions they aren’t comfortable answering. Is curiosity a bad thing then? Not necessarily. Thanks to curious people and their inventions we have life-saving medicines and can travel from here to the other side of the world in a matter of hours instead of weeks. But curiosity can be dangerous. Just think of how many explorers have died trying to satisfy their curiosity of what lay on the other side of the ocean or jungle.
Yes, it’s important that we exercise our curiosity correctly. That’s especially true in regard to spiritual matters. Through the example of a man named Nicodemus we’re going to learn that the curiosity of unbelief questions God’s ways while the curiosity of faith accepts God’s answers.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and member of the ruling council of Israel. He was a man who had devoted his life to studying the Old Testament and trying to live a God-pleasing life. Although his fellow Pharisees didn’t think very much of Jesus and in fact opposed him throughout his ministry, Nicodemus saw something in Jesus that piqued his curiosity. So instead of taking his co-workers word for what Jesus was all about, Nicodemus thought it important to go straight to the source and hear first hand the claims Jesus was making about himself.
Nicodemus’ example is worth emulating. Unfortunately many people today are content to believe what some “expert” or Hollywood movie has to say about Jesus and the Bible. Go ahead, listen to what they have to say but then compare that with what the Bible says. Ad fontes! “To the source!” as they used to say in Latin. Only by going to the source of Christianity will you really know whether or not this religion is worth following. Don’t draw any conclusions until you have investigated and weighed all the evidence put forth in the Bible.
As you study the Bible you’re going to find some teachings that don’t make sense. Even the scholar Nicodemus found that to be true. Listen to this exchange between Nicodemus and Jesus. “Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” 4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” 5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” 9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked” (John 3:3-9).
What did Jesus mean that one must be born again to see the kingdom of God? Certainly Nicodemus couldn’t climb back into his mother’s womb, could he? For many that would have been the end of the interview. Cleary Jesus was a crackpot. He said things that made no sense. Ah, but that’s the curiosity of unbelief. It questions God’s ways without waiting for an answer or explanation. It doesn’t want to admit that God might know something we don’t. No, don’t give in to the temptation of dismissing Bible-teachings out of hand. Instead follow Nicodemus’ example. Ask for clarification. Keep engaging the God of the universe in conversation. In time he will make his teachings clear.
So what did Jesus mean that one must be born again? Well the first time we are born we inherit from our parents a sinful nature. That’s the point Jesus was making when he said, “Flesh gives birth to flesh” (John 3:6a). We’re like an email that has a virus. Such an email might look harmless but it will do a lot of damage to a computer. That’s why we install firewalls on our computers. We want to keep those viruses out. In the same way God has set a firewall around heaven. Only those without the virus of sin can enter or they’ll mess up paradise, as did Adam and Eve after they disobeyed God. The kind of life we all pine for – a life where children always obey their parents, and parents always have time for their children. A life where husband and wife never argue, where no one rudely cuts you off on the highway, where people really mean it when they ask: “How are you?” - that kind of life is only possible in a world without sin.
Nicodemus may have thought that as a Pharisee and scholar of the Old Testament he had done enough to gain entrance into heaven to enjoy such a life. But no, Nicodemus too was a sinner. In fact in that one day alone how many needy people had Nicodemus walked by without stopping to help because he was in a hurry? How many unkind thoughts had passed through his mind when he thought of his co-workers? No, Nicodemus too needed saving. That’s why Jesus began the conversation by saying, “I tell you the truth, no one [not even you, Nicodemus] can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3).