Born again! In the ‘70’s and ‘80’s these two words evoked quite a response. Other “born againers” were happy to meet you. And the “non-born againers”, dismissed you as a “religious” fanatic, a fundamentalist!
Those of you old enough to remember President Richard Nixon will remember Watergate. The fall guy for Nixon was one of his advisors, Chuck Colson. Colson eventually spent 7 months in prison. During this time Colson became a Christian and wrote a book titled, “Born Again”.
Of course, the term “born again” came from a meeting between a Jewish Pharisee, Nicodemus and Jesus. Religion must have failed Nicodemus and therefore, under the cover of darkness, he sought Jesus out. Jesus’ reply to him was that he needed to be “born again”.
And here is where the fun starts. What is the difference between being religious and being “born again”?
Religion is about rule keeping. Not only rule-keeping, but also comparing. Religion thrives on comments like, “I am not as bad as some”, or “I am more generous than some Christians.” Rule keepers believe that “bad” people deserve bad things to happen, and “good” people deserve good things.
Religion loves saying things like, “I just do what the bible says”. They love things to be “black or white” and often claim to be the guardians of truth. Any form of nuance is dismissed as compromise, and compromise is the ultimate betrayal of true Christianity!
“Born again”? Well, born again is by its very definition mystical. It speaks of another realm. Not some distant realm in a land “far, far away”. But one that almost exists within the ordinary, within our everyday life of the here and now. Jesus called this “parallel” world the ‘Kingdom of God”.
When Jesus speaks to Nicodemus about being “born again”, He shifts Nicodemus’ literal reference to something more mystical, more transcendent. Jesus says, “humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, “you must be born again.” (John 3:6-7)
And then Jesus says these words, “The wind blows where ever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
Life in the Spirit
Being born of the Spirit is an awakening to a life in the Spirit. A life in the Spirit is about growing in Union with God which will ultimately affect how you engage in the material world we live in each day.
Union with God
Being born again becomes the birth of what it means to be a human being. Being born again is an act of transcendent grace, resulting in a mystical union. Like the wind, you may not understand where it comes from and where it is going, but you sure can feel the effect.
May you be affected! May you be born again!
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