It is not uncommon to hear someone who is a follower of Jesus talk about about being born again. We find this idea in many places of scripture. Most of the time when people are referencing this idea, they often will recite some part of John chapter 3.
In John 3 we read a story about a leader of the Jewish people, named Nicodemus, coming to Jesus by night and talking to him about the idea of being born again. It strikes me as an interesting conversation. You see Nicodemus opens the conversation by acknowledging Jesus as a great teacher with great power. He says that Jesus must have a special relationship with God because he would not possess such a power otherwise.
Jesus’ response, however pokes at how little Nicodemus really knows about the kingdom of God. This sticks out to me because you wonder what it was in Nicodemus’ greeting that triggered the response from Jesus. I think Jesus knew that Nicodemus’ idea of power was skewed. I think that Jesus knew that Nicodemus really didn’t know real power.
I know the same is true for us. We can see things in life and recognize the power that exists within those things. We might even be able to perceive some sort of divine touch in those things, but I think what Jesus is getting at in this passage is, unless we experience rebirth our eyes remain dim to what is really going on.
Jesus goes on to talk about the flesh and the spirit.
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 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 3:5-8 ESV)
I think that when it comes down to it, we have to acknowledge that faith comes out of our encounter with Jesus. Jesus gives the wind as an illustration, and I think it is pretty solid. We can see the evidence of the wind. We feel it, smell it, and see the effects of it as it moves through the trees. However we dont know where it is coming from, we really dont know where it is going, it just exists.
Faith is similar. We begin to know faith as we experience it happen in our life. We may not understand it through and through, or even know all the who, whats, or why’s about it but it’s there. It manifests itself in our life through the evidence of things we do every day. I think this is why it is so important for us to live new lives in Christ.
Faith is what lets us see the evidence of new life, and new life means that we dont have to live the same way we did any more. We lay down all that crap that hindered us from living a full life before, and we want to see other people get rid of all the crap that hinders them from living a full life. This is the what makes the Gospel good news. We don’t have to live the way we once did any more, we can live fuller lives that have greater meaning.
Our lives change because we can finally see that God really does love us, that he is not some big cosmic jerk. What we see in Jesus’ words to Nicodemus is that God really isn’t condemning people, but that he is trying to rescue them.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17 ESV)
New life, means new life. It means that we recognize that someone has finally thrown us a life preserver and is bringing us back to the boat. We embrace this new life and all that comes with it. We live in the power of the new life that Christ has given, and then we try to help others discover the new life that is available to them too.
God is not being selective, he is trying to rescue, redeem, and restore the world and he is asking us to join with him. He has given us everything we need to partner with him, simply have to continue living in the new life that he has given us, and lay down the old life we once lived in. I think we people see that, when they see the greatness of Jesus Christ magnified and manifest in our daily lives it is undeniable and new life can be had by the people around us.