Today we read the interaction between Jesus and Nicodemus, in which the Lord says those famous words about being born again. Already, people are running for the hills because ‘born again’ means ‘zealous overkill’ in several languages. And it should be far from true…
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.
No one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again, Jesus tells Nicodemus. This is idea of being born again is a lightning rod for many people today. ‘Born again’ is often associated with a kind of Christian that the world would prefer not to meet. And the world prefer to avoid them because of their judgmental attitudes and self-righteousness.
Zeal spills over.
Let’s call it what it is – overkill.
When you leave no air to breathe around your seeker friend, you have little hope in them feeling positive about your faith in Jesus. Suffocation takes the mind off everything else.
It is really too bad that zeal overkill has given being born again a bad name because spiritual rebirth is an essential part of foundation of Christianity. We have been born of water and the flesh. Jesus offers us a new kind of birth – a spiritual rebirth in which our souls are born anew in communion with God. Nic doesn’t understand how we can return to the womb, which is when Jesus elaborates for him: flesh gives birth to flesh and spirit gives birth to spirit.
To be specific, the Holy Spirit gives birth to our spirits to enter in relationship with our Creator. It doesn’t, however, change anything physical.
In fact, I hate to break it to you, but you can’t be a born again virgin. If that’s done it’s done. Being born again doesn’t change where we have been or what we have done. Being born again changes how we look at those things and ourselves and it opens us up to God’s view of us through the work of his Son Jesus.
It’s a redeemed reality.
It is impossible to separate being born again from the cross of Jesus. Part of being spiritually alive is understanding that Jesus lived and died and rose again for us. For us. Because we needed him to. Because the flesh we are born into has led us to walk away from the God who loves us. When the Spirit of God opens our eyes to see the truth of what Jesus has done, and we respond by receiving Jesus, we are regenerated spiritually. We cross over from spiritual death to spiritual life in the process.
Being born again is a fresh start, yet it’s not the big eraser of yesterday. We need to still own our actions and make good decisions. And again, this is where the world is watching: we need to represent being born again so that people are attracted to the spiritual rebirth which is available to all!