Today I should like to suggest that the tired phrase ‘born again’ is a very rich expression for life in the Kingdom of God. Recall Jesus saying to Nicodemus, that he must be born again if he was to SEE the Kingdom of God. (John 3:3) One could say ‘born from above’ or ‘born anew’ but either way there is, from Jesus, the sense that one must start a new kind of life. I see that life as one of intentional interaction with God. It is not just enough to believe there is a God who is sovereign, who cares for his creation through his providence. One needs to have a new life experience with God. One needs to trust that God is actually engaged with us, is beginning a new work in us in the words of Philippians 1:6. This God is not static. His life is dynamic with us always moving, and relating with us.I believe that too often we can be satisfied with the theory of God and not the reality of God in us.
Jesus came to the earth to bring a brand new reality that can be trusted. That reality he called the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of the Heavens. And to see that Kingdom as a reality one needs a new birth, a starting over in life with a new perspective that throws out most old notions of God as ‘up there’ or ‘the man upstairs.’ We need instead to place our confidence in the Jesus who came to show us ‘The Father’ and through whom as Jesus said we actually see the most perfect loving character of God the Father.
Maybe other expressions of ‘born again’ would be ‘alive’ ‘have new eyes’ or ‘be alert’, ‘excite your senses’, ‘think outside the box’, ‘get rid of all your restraints’, ‘think creatively’.
If we, any of us, are going to experience Kingdom living here and now we have got to start being creative in the attitudes of our hearts and minds. We cannot love like Jesus love without this ‘interaction’ with the Father. We love because God loved us and that love of God is big. It’s huge. And our little kingdoms that we build all by ourselves do not have the capacity to love like that. When Jesus tells us to forgive everyone or we won’t be forgiven it requires a new dynamic, a new paradigm, a model unlike anything we have ever known. It requires really a new birth experience.
Jesus told his followers, his new students that they needed to become like a little child in order to enter the kingdom of God. (See Mark 10:15) They and we must come with a simple trust; arms wide open to receive the love of God in Christ as never before. A child places his or her confidences in those who care for them. They are not prejudice. They don’t worry about tomorrow. They don’t even worry about the clothes they wear. Children know how to love unconditionally. Jesus had a special care for the children and told the folks the danger of hurting any one of them.
When Jesus tells us to be ‘born again’ he knows that we come with a package of previous behavior and attitudes but he also knows that by God’s grace those characteristics where they are harmful can change. We can set them aside as it were. (See Colossians 3:8) Paul’s writings
So how does this new birth take place? It is a conscious decision to place our confidence in God’s son, Jesus, who came to show us the character and providence of God. And as with a child we learn a new language of trust and love and peace and righteousness. The new birth is certainly assisted by the Holy Spirit, which is why Jesus probably mentions the wind blowing where it wants to because God in Christ is up to a new thing in his creation. It may be the first time we actually experience love from God.
We are given new eyes to see as when Elisha prayed for his servant to be able to see the armies of God surrounded them against the enemies. (2King 6:17)
If we are born again, starting new, revitalized then like a child we will need to learn how to read and here I refer to the Scriptures that can make us wise. (2Timothy 3:15) And as we talk with our Father we begin to learn the language of love.
And most of all being born again means that we become apprentices of Jesus. We enter his school of grace and truth. We sign up to practice the life that Jesus told us to live. He promises to live with and within us, to be with us to the end of the age.
So let me conclude by saying that being born again is a dynamic life with God at every moment. It affects our body, our minds, our spirit, our souls. This is not a theory. It’s not a doctrine. This is the new reality of the Kingdom of God that has come in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. He is the Kingdom of God and invites us into life with God.
By the way. Nicodemus? He shows up again as a follower of Jesus. (John 19:38-42)