Many would argue the art of good conversation is becoming a lost art. There are many reasons for this, ranging from the evolution of technology to people just not being that interested in what others have to say.
These people have a point. After all, technology now allows us many ways to communicate with each other without directly talking. E-mail, text messaging, voice mail and other forms of communication emphasize convenience more than interaction.
And maybe we like it this way. For some of us, talking to tons of people each day can be exhausting. While this is so, we are really missing something if we are easing the art of conversation out of our lives.
Sometimes the most fascinating conversations can be ones in which we are not involved. They can be ones we observe or maybe read the transcript of.
When I think of a meaningful conversation, my mind often wanders to the encounter that Jesus had with a man named Nicodemus as it is recorded in the third chapter of the Gospel of John in the New Testament.
This was an important conversation. Jesus’ earthly ministry was in its early stages and He was drawing lots of attention. Some of this attention came from people wanting to stop Him, but others sought Him out wanting to know more.
Nicodemus fits the second category. He was not just an ordinary man. He was a person of high standing in his community and a member of the Sanhedrin, which was a Jewish leadership body.
Despite his stature, it was he who made the effort to seek Jesus out. Perhaps the first fascinating aspect of this conversation was the circumstance in which it took place. Verse two points out that it took place at night.
Why did Nicodemus approach Him at night? We can only speculate, but there could be a couple of reasons. It could have been for convenience. Jesus had been drawing crowds, and if a person of Nicodemus’ standing had approached Him during the day, it could have been a wild scene.
A more likely reason is that Nicodemus did not know what to make of Jesus who was already becoming a controversial figure among the religious establishment. Therefore, at night, he could approach Him without drawing attention to himself and causing more controversy.
The conversation itself is a dialogue between two heavyweights. Jesus pointed out the need for people to be born again and Nicodemus was struggling with the concept while asking probing questions.
The conversation culminates with probably the most famous verse in The Bible. In the sixteenth verse, Jesus states: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
It is not everyday that a conversation produces a quote that is remembered almost 2,000 years later. I have never said anything that will be around 2,000 years from now. For most reading this essay, it will be forgotten almost as soon as the wind changes direction.
However, the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus is one that still carries tremendous weight and is as relevant today as it was back then. Even non-followers of Christianity are familiar with the verse quoted above. Scan the crowd at a football game and inevitably, there is at least one person holding a sign that states “John 3:16.”
The bottom line is the art of conversation will never die as long as we have examples like this to remind us how meaningful personal interaction can be. A little effort can result in much gained if we try.