The Problem with Theology


“…Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”    John 3:7-8


I have a personal connection to Nicodemus and his story as told by John. As a matter of fact over time I have found I have a connection to many of the individuals who live in this great holy story told in Scripture. Do you realize as Believers we are all part of the testimony of grace started at the foundation of the world? Who can comprehend it?

Nicodemus was part of the spiritual elite of his day…

Did he get it? Coming to Jesus by night, he needed answers. This is why I love Jesus more today than yesterday. WE want answers. Jesus gives them. Not always the way we expect or even the way we want. But, if you want something, going to Jesus is a good place to start. But, I too, like Nicodemus started my own journey with questions and under cover of darkness.

In the beginning of my spiritual journey, I wanted Jesus, because there’s that bit about Jesus we all know is good, is right…we all have a bit of Jesus in our lives, like a glimmer of light, we are unsure of- we have just enough Jesus to be open to everything else. Which means we have no part of Jesus at all…but I am getting ahead of myself.

We walk towards that light and learn more about this Son of Man, and we start to get nervous. All of a sudden that smiling Jesus with children on his lap we’ve seen images all our lives comes into stark contrast to the weird reality of His words.

We carry a suitcase full of preconceived ideas which we’ve been stuffing into our memory banks over time, bits and pieces of Jesus that bear no resemblance to the truth. We create a Jesus Frankenstein with our mismatched bits of information and ideas and we think we know Him when we know only the constructs of the false stuffed scarecrow god we’ve created.

I learned early in my Christian walk that if you walk toward the Light, the true Light…a darker darkness will pursue you. I read Jesus’ words  and discovered NOT the gentle shepherd carrying a lamb but I sensed an all consuming fire of a God who sees all. And I’ll be honest, I wanted to run in the other direction. Everything I was, I knew was at stake. His Word captivated me…and caused me discomfort.

You see, knowing about God…it’s MUCH different than knowing God. You know how I know? Because I was foolish enough to pray prayers I didn’t fully comprehend early on. I should praise God for that! Knowing God, is dangerous for a lot of reasons. Knowing God will cost  you, and you might just lose everything you hold dear. Your reputation, relationships, your falsely placed sense of security, finances, and perceived freedoms.

But you gain something that you can never lose. Something greater than all the riches you might desire. A forever gift. You receive an incomprehensible mysterious miracle. For real.

The problem with theology, as I see it, is you can’t have a real relationship without a mutual understanding between the parties which are in relationship. A relationship that is one-sided cannot survive. You can’t have a relationship with an inanimate object. Or with a person who doesn’t know you exist. Or you can…but the words to describe the “relationships” mentioned are not healthy or mutual.

You can know everything about a person but never know them Isn’t this what happens with celebrities? You can know all about something  or someone without ever knowing or believing them. You can know and NOT be known. There is no intimacy in that.

In John Chapter 3, Jesus explains to Nicodemus heavenly things, which he stumbles on. I spent many sleepless nights with the term “born again” and my unwillingness to turn from my limited understanding to faith in what I couldn’t quite comprehend. Jesus tells Nicodemus the way…and as one who knew the things of God, the Messianic prophecies, and was privy to all things regarding the Temple, he stumbles. Jesus packs a lot of theology into the after dark  conversation with this religious leader.  I wonder how many sleepless nights Nicodemus had before he sought answers from the Savior. How many more after? Being identified with Jesus at that time would have certainly cost him…but Jesus graciously speaks truth to Nicodemus, planting seeds that God can use in His time as He wills. God knows the heart. For better and worse. I find it interesting to note that John chapter 2 ends with this acknowledgement (John 2:24)

For this Lent reading, what stood out to me was the contrast between Nicodemus at the start of the chapter  and John the Baptist’s amazing exaltation and testimony for Jesus. However, knowing what is to come for John the Baptist, who grappled with his own doubts when faced with death,  only assures me more of our Savior’s ability and capacity to accept us with our messy questions, and squirmy doubts.

Jesus is an intimate Savior not a far away deity. Isn’t that a beautiful thing? We have a God who knows us and longs to be known by us. By grace through faith. Not by our will, or any work of our bodies, but by the Spirit- the will of God and His willingness!

Here are two poems I have written which I think go well with the themes of Chapter 3.

My Testimony in Poem (#iamapoet)

The Miracle In Me (Modern Day Disciple)


This post is part of the Journaling through the Book of John: A Journey for Lent and Beyond series of posts…check out all the posts on that page!


How are you doing with Journaling Through The Book of John?

Anything strike you differently than in prior readings?

Have you tried anything new in your quiet time? 

How can I support you in your journey? 

Do you have any questions or requests for my to cover?


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Published by enthusiasticallydawn

Dawn Paoletta is the author of Journaling for Discovery and Delight. Her writing is included in several anthologies and her poems have been included in the Wickford Poetry and Art Exhibit and Books. Dawn is currently working on her next book. Inquiries at

2 thoughts on “The Problem with Theology

  1. I found those words at the end of John 2 interesting as well…that Jesus did not “entrust” himself to the people because he knows all men. Humans, in fallen sinful state, are not trustworthy! Yet, he wants a relationship with us and calls us friends…amazing, isn’t it?!

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