Somehow, everyone has a clear glimpse of the meaning of "born again." That's why it is so commonly used in product advertising. Remade, recycled, revived, restored, re-invented. These concepts are wonderfully included in the usage by Jesus Christ and by Christians of today.
"You must be born again." These have been rightfully identified as the most egalitarian words ever spoken. They level the human race just where we need to be cut down to size. Jesus had several things in mind when He startled the erudite and devout Nicodemus with the declaration that is thehall-mark of Christianity. This official of Jewry,
"ruler in Israel," was hearing the most revolutionary idea in human history announced to him in this private, low-keyed interview. One's racial or ethnic identity has no standing before God and does not aid one's spiritual health. But tribalism is only one aspect of the human tragedy. A killer-disease of the heart eats at our lives and ruins our eternities in myriads of ways. It is SIN. The condition is SIN. Let the day of ignorance and sin pass, and watch a new sun rise. Worship God in Spirit and in Truth. Know God through Jesus Christ, Who has brought to noon-day brightness the realities of life and light.
"You" must be born again. This is the universal inclusive; and what a powerful point with which to begin the diagnosis of mankind. For the Son of God to say this to a wonderfully impressive, accomplished specimen of manhood was striking, to say the least. But, as outstanding as Nicodemus was, he was, by definition, glorying in his
"race" and accomplishments in life.
That race is meaningless is the first thing
Jesus would have us know from the term "born again." This had to be the force
that jolted the interviewer. John the Baptist first thundered the idea which he
graphically illustrated by declaring that lifeless rocks were as significant as gonads.
Gonadal religion is a curse. But it long had been, and still
is, one of the dominate forces in the world. And in most cases it is based on a fantasy. So with Nicodemus and his nation. They were, in no wise, a pure-bred race. (Their own King at that time, was a forced convert to their nation-church-race.) And what is race if it is not pure? To those of us who prize race it is enormously important, fantasy
and all. How sad. How sad for the ancient nation-church-state of Israel. Paul, speaking ethnically, later shouted that to be in Christ is to be liberated from pride of race. In Christ one is a "new creation." All things are new. Thepast has passed.
"Must." This is the universal imperative. Many things are important. Many things are good. Many things are desirable and laudable. But, because of the impending eternity, there is one
"MUST." I must acknowledge that I need a quality of life that I could not, and did not, inherit; and that I could not, and have not acquired through my efforts. In fact, I must acknowledge that I have been, and am, full of sin. I have disobeyed the Ten Commandments that are written in the Bible and that are imbedded in my consciousness. I am a
sinful person. I must and I will be born all-over-again, I make this choice. I accept a new pedigree, I welcome this new beginning. I renounce pride of race, place, face, grace and goods. Nothing in my hand I bring, to the Cross of Christ I will cling. I will count all these other considerations as loss and have my whole being hidden with Christ in God. I must be born again. Born-again is the impartation of life. "Again," means that from the point of conception to this moment, I forget all assets of my personality and accomplishments. I am sorry that I have, so many times chosen to sin against God, mankind and myself. I repent. In return, God gives me the assurance that He forgives and forgets all my failures, selfishness, deceit, carelessness, addictions, wanderings, boastings and specifics that God and I know about. My SIN. This assurance is a peace and rest, a warm
affection and gratitude to the Savior for accepting my repentance and giving me Himself in His life, death and resurrection. All my relationships have a truly sacred significance now. I am devoted and indebted to all. But, I am united to God in the spiritual union of redemption and salvation. I am aware of His Spirit living close with me. I walk with God Whose presence is love. He gives me hope. Faith is real. In my weak and faltering faith, God's generousity (grace) is abundant with strength and confidence. I am not bound for judgment and Hell. I am on the Highway to Heaven.
©1998 Roy E. Greenhill, Sr. All rights reserved
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