Sunday, March 02, 2008

Born Again ... Again!

I was reading someone's blog where they were talking about the phrase "born again." It causes me to search out the original Scripture reference and reflect on it a bit myself. It's interesting how we forget (or maybe just relegate to the back of our minds) those familiar Scriptures that we think we really know. Sometimes we also think we fully understand the concepts behind the Scriptures as well. We have established in our minds what they mean and never need to examine them again.

Fortunately the Word of God is alive and sharper than any sword and cuts into our complacency again and again. The Word speaks to us on so many levels. We can look at it historically or allegorically or as a fresh word for each day. The Spirit makes it alive for today.

The phrase is mentioned in the third chapter of John where Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."Nicodemus a teacher of the Torah asked him the question and Jesus was a bit surprised that he didn't understand the concept.

I pulled two main concepts out of the passage:

1. Each day is a new beginning.
Every day is a fresh start. God has something new for us every day. Lamentations 3 says:

21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

So we can be born again every morning. Each day has endless possibilities. It has never existed before and awaits us experiencing it. If we live looking to the past it binds us and blinds us.

Our bad past binds us with hurts and false expectations. It traps us in a prison of what used to be. We become afraid of trying something new or of praying big prayers because we think it will turn out the same way it turned out last time.

Our good past blinds us from seeing new possibilities. It makes us expect the same good thing that happened last time and closes our eyes to the surprising and creative ways God may want to do things this time.

Jesus quoted Isaiah 61 when He began His ministry by reminding people that He came to set the prisoner free and open the eyes of the blind. To me that speaks of the endless possibilities of a new day.

2. We need to become like little children.
This is the second concept that I pulled out of that familiar passage. The Kingdom of God is backwards. The greatest shall become the least, the first shall be last, in a fight, turn the other cheek. And to become spiritually mature we need to become like a little child. Get born again, start over, become little, become dependent, helpless and small. Instead we too often want to become know-it-alls and super saints. Start over. Be born again, again. Unless we become like little children …

In Matthew 18 Jesus instructs us to become like little children.

1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 2He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

I think this is why Jesus was surprised Nicodemus didn't understand Him. In our religious systems we sometimes think we need to be serious to be mature. I think God wants us to be playful, to enjoy the Kingdom, to celebrate and rejoice with God. Everything is done already. Let the wind blow even though you don't know where it goes.

Finally I think that Jesus' resurrection is about being born again. He died, was buried and then on the third day became alive again. What joy he must have experienced! "for the joy set before him He endured the cross!" What a fresh new beginning!

Scripture finishes of with a new beginning.

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." 5He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

Enjoy the new day!

And in case you didn't notice - I did a new thing - shaved my mustache! (Check out the new profile picture.)

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