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The implications of this false idea are enormous! This notion that the Physical world and the Spiritual world are separate and disconnected causes all kinds of problems, and that is mainly because this idea is FALSE. The Physical world and the Spiritual world are ONE WORLD because Jesus bridges the divide.

IF you live as if the Spiritual world is either unreal or irrelevant, you are going to fall into the false ideologies of a materialist mindset where “only what I can see” is real. And that mindset produces nothing lasting or meaningful. Just look at our modern society today and you’ll see what I mean. From the horrors of the secular cults that say “through surgery, you can finally have the ‘right’ body you FEEL you need” to the violent terrors of war and even environmental abuse, this false ideology sets humans up for destruction and meaninglessness.

But what if there was a “Normal” way to have a holistic understanding of reality that soberly invites you to make you able to “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3)

There is and it’s revealed to us in our passage from John 31-15:

At that time, there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nikodemos, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nikodemos said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The Spirit blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, and you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nikodemos said to him, “How can this be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”

2023 is the start of our focus on resetting our ideas of what a “normal” Orthodox way of life really is, and it all starts with this conversation (some might call it a confrontation) between Jesus and Nicodemus. Our Parts 1 and 2 bring us to Part 3 where we start to unpack the implications of Jesus explaining to Nicodemus the necessity of each of us to be “born from above.”

The Lord confronts this religious leader and scholar with the fact that he shouldn’t be confused by the Lord’s words! The whole of the Hebrew scriptures is filled with God telling us that He has every intention of transfiguring us to be what we were created to be: Eternal Companions of the Uncreated God! And that’s going to take us being able to live in both the physical AND spiritual worlds at the same time.

That means we have to have a spiritual birth as well as a physical birth to be a whole human!

This means we have to, each of us, sit where Nicodemus sits in this conversation and hear these words from the Lord and seriously process what this means. And the three implications are, frankly, both clear and unmistakable.

First, we have to abandon the “too small” thinking that we live in merely a physical world. I’m not talking about the “Hollywood” fantasies of “the spirit world” of mediums, fortune tellers, and ghost stories. Those shallow and empty spiritual calories are simply meant to ruin your appetite for the reality of “normal” life in Christ. No, we have to learn how to live in both “worlds” at the same time through the sober wisdom of the Church and her spiritual disciplines that are meant to sensitize you to living a whole human life! Jesus makes it possible because He is Fully God and Fully Man. His presence in the world heals the division between the physical and the spiritual.

And that means remaining ignorant or unaware or, worse yet, dismissive of the spiritual side of being human makes it impossible for you to be who you really are! A person who wakes up to the new “Normal” of sensitivity to the reality of my spiritual life sets me on the path to developing discernment, attentiveness, and wisdom in seeing God’s grace heal me in some of the deepest places of my own brokenness. You were created for this path! You are invited by Christ to humbly and courageously embrace this “Normal” Orthodox life!

Tomorrow, Implication #2

P.S. Your Nativity, O Christ our God, has shined the light of knowledge upon the world; for thereby they that worshipped the stars were instructed by a star to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know You, the Dayspring from on high. O Lord, glory to You.

One other note: 2023 is a milestone, of sorts, for me. If this work is a blessing to you, would you send this devotional to 3 of your friends and ask them to sign up for the daily devotionals? When you do this, you make a difference. Thank you.

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