Matthew 8:22: But Jesus said to him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
We are born dead! (Eph. 2:1). The apostle Paul says “sin came into the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12).
Yet, pinches self, we are not physically dead (yet). Which part of us is dead then?
Think of it this way: everyone is born with a laptop, but it’s not plugged in or switched on. (It used to be, but Adam pulled the plug way back in Eden, and now we don’t know it’s supposed to be working – or how to switch it back on even if we do.) So everyone from birth is carrying around a dead laptop in a bag, and hardly anyone thinks that is odd.
From time to time, some people get tired of lugging around a dead laptop and they start to wonder what it’s for. So they go to a meeting where they are given a free plug adapter to make it work – after a fashion – on a different power system. Then they pick up a faint signal but it’s so unclear and troublesome that it’s worse than nothing.
Others get so tired of the whole laptop thing that they chuck it into the nearest river and shout “freedom!!”. Now, even if there were a signal they’d never be able to benefit from it. But they don’t feel any sense of loss because – well, it was dead anyway, wasn’t it?
You might have realised by now that my analogy is about the spirit – not the Holy Spirit of God, but the spirit with which all human beings are born, that should have made us aware of and able to relate to God. The interface, if you will.
God provided a working interface to Adam and Eve so that they could (unlike the animal kingdom) know, understand, see and love the things relating to God and the spiritual realm of God. They could KNOW as they are KNOWN. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
However, as warned, if they turned away from God to self, and to the devil, and to other means of knowledge and relationship, that deed would sever the connection. The interface would be powered down and would “die” even if it was still capable of activity.
Thus Adam and Eve became spiritually dead and we all inherited that deadness from our parents.
As I said, it’s like we were born with the interface to “another dimension” – say, the internet – but no longer any way to connect.
Joe the Seeker
Everyone deals with this differently. But imagine there is somebody seeking God. Let’s call him Joe.
Day by day a letter arrives on Joe’s doormat. One day it says, “I’m having to contact you by mail because you don’t seem to be using the internet yet. I’m here, I still love you – please get in touch! All you need to do is go to my web blog and you’ll find all you need there, including a live video stream, instructional messages, and a face-to-face messenger system so we can talk and share. Please come! You just need to go to my website at http://www.jesus-really-is-here.hvn“.
The poor man reads these mails, almost every day. He recites them, he learns them off by heart. He even rejoices in them, because they appear to confirm that God is real. But he’s no closer to Him than before. The instructions seem like nonsense. What is a www? How can he go there?
One letter that arrived said he should use his laptop. But how?? He even got it out on his desk and looked at it for a while, hoping something would happen.
He concentrated hard and then he imagined he saw shadows on the black screen. But no, it was only the curtains moving in the breeze in his own room.
In desperation, Joe sought the help of a friend who said he HAD accessed the internet on his laptop. (Could it be true?) This friend told him, the laptop is just a dead interface until you switch it on, or rather, let somebody else switch it on for you – somebody who knows how to work a laptop.
Switch it on???
I’ve never heard of any such thing, Joe says to his friend. Whatever do you mean?
Well, he replied, it’s like this: A man called Nicodemus lugged his laptop out to the sticks one night to ask a popular religious man for advice on how to get onto the internet.
The Man (Jesus) told him, what you have there is a dead thing. You can’t see anything on a dead laptop. You have to power it up, switch it on, and use it for what it was intended!
Of course, this was news to Nicodemus, who – like everyone else – thought just possessing the laptop was sufficient for everyone’s needs. As long as you dusted it occasionally, kept it inside its special bag, and treated it with respect, you were doing all that could be expected of you by God.
NO, Jesus replied. Unless you go back to basics, the very fundamentals of what this is about, and actually plug this thing in, make a connection, power it up, and USE it, you’ll NEVER be able to SEE anything!! And, if you choose, said Jesus, I can provide the power and cable to do that very thing. If you like.
That is a true story, said the friend to Joe as they sat at the kitchen table.
And another follower of Jesus said much the same thing:
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor. 2:14).
“What you have there”, he said to Joe, “is just the same problem. You have heard the rumours, you have been told (and believe) that there’s a whole other dimension out there called the ‘internet’ where you can SEE for yourself and KNOW for certain, and INTERACT and HEAR what you have been told. For REAL.
“But you’ve never been there, have you?”
Joe shook his head, close to tears.
“Haven’t you been reading the instructions?”
Joe replied, “YES. Every day!! I know them all off by heart, but it seems confusing, far-fetched, impossible to attain, and there’s no way to do it. I’ve tried! I’ve tried so many times, and all I see is a black screen.
“One day I cut out a lovely painting of Jesus and sellotaped it to the screen, so I could gaze at that and pretend I was talking to him. But it just seemed as dead as before.” And he broke down in tears.
“Didn’t you ever use the power socket?”
“The what??” Joe says.
“Look, for this to work as intended, every laptop needs plug, a cable and…” – he pointed across the room – “…an accessible socket always within reach of any device. Let’s get you hooked up, shall we? Do you want to?”
So Joe apologised for being so dim and uncomprehending, and so fearful and worldly-minded, and he bowed his head and asked God to reconnect him, to provide the proper cable and plug, to attach him to the socket, and to SWITCH HIM ON!
He could work as God intended! Hallelujah.
Suddenly something happened! Instead of a black screen, there was LIFE. Suddenly there was colour, activity, motion, meaning. And suddenly Joe could SEE what the writing in the mail had been talking about. He could SEE beyond himself, and this world, and natural things into a new realm which he called the “Kingdom of God”.
“Well, Joe”, said his friend. “Didn’t one of the letters say as much? It said that Nicodemus came to Jesus at Andnight and enquired about the Kingdom of God”:
And Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 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.” (John 3:3-8)
Now, no illustration is perfect and this one has many flaws. However, the basic truth is this: nothing comes from deadness, and we are born dead.
No amount of trying and praying and following the rulebook can change that. Even the most religious people are DEAD.
We can understand on a human level that a device intended to reach beyond our own world into another needs power and connection – yet we fail to understand what Jesus said to Nicodemus, unless you are born again in a spiritual rebirth, you will remain dead – no matter how lawabiding or reigious you are.
Jesus (who is God) has ALL you need, today, right here, right now. There is no need to look beyond, to other devices or equipment. There is no need to go out and earn anything extra. All you need to do is go to Jesus as ASK:
“Dear Lord, I’ve been foolish and wrong. I have been trying in my own strength to do what nobody can do. I have missed it by a mile, but I know you to be forgiving and merciful. Please forgive me. I know that I’m dead inside and unable to truly perceive your kingdom realm nor connect to you in a living way, as you wanted. I want to know you! I want to relate to you, feel your love, hear your guidance, have a genuine relationship with you, and grow in you daily so that I can please you more and more and be of use to you. None of this can I do for myself. So today I come to you asking that you awaken and fill my spirit with your holy presence and power as I receive you by faith. Let the dead lamp inside me be lit by your flame, let the spiritual connection be remade between me and you, let the light and life of your being flood my heart and soul and mind and body, so that I am no longer a dead object good for nothing, but alive and active in your kingdom – as you intended. Amen”