Back from the Dead
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3 (New Living Translation).
The phrase “born again” brings all kinds of pictures to people’s minds. It could recall everything from a co-worker to a Billy Graham crusade to Tim Tebow to the baffling behavior of Westboro Baptist Church. The phrase gets lost in all the talk of political campaigning and the voting block of the “born again”. Everything from companies to sports franchises to restaurant chains are described as born again when they rebound. To recapture the real meaning we need to revisit Jesus’ use of the term.
“Born again” literally means “born from above.” The term “new birth” was used in different contexts... religiously it meant the change that came after one began to obey and as a result of one’s obedience. In the above verse, Jesus meant something entirely different and radical. Jesus was speaking about a spiritual resuscitation of our lives orchestrated by God. When we believe in Jesus, when we look to him, the miraculous occurs. New birth doesn’t come after life change, but before. This supernatural event begins the process of living a new life under God.
Being “born again” implies that we are spiritually dead before coming to faith. We need more than mild-mannered improvement or pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps common sense. We need more than a quick pep talk by the latest version of Dr. Phil. We’re dead. Defibrillators won’t help. No amount of chest compressions or mouth-to-mouth resuscitations will help. We’re way past CPR.
In fact, in Ephesians 2:5, the Bible gives us that exact images when it says we were dead in our transgressions. We’re lying on a stretcher with the white sheet pulled over us. We are unresponsive to all that God is and to all that he wants to do in our life.
Jesus literally came to bring us back from the dead. When we place our faith and trust in him we are going through our own resurrection... we are born again. Like a newborn infant, we now are called to grow and mature as people of faith. It may begin for us when we pray a prayer for salvation or walk down the aisle at church, but there is so much more to being born again than that moment.
What does this new life mean to you? How does it affect your every day?