Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
Daily Bible Reading: Leviticus 9:1 – 11:47
Relate: In 1978 Chuck Colson wrote entitled “Born Again” and earlier that same year Jimmy Carter publicly professed to being born again. The term, used to describe a spiritual conversion to Christ, took off like wildfire. By the next American presidential election every major candidate was claiming to be born again. A phrase used to explain an intensely personal experience had become political and it sadly remains so in the eyes of many to this day. More than once when sharing my faith with someone else, they ask, “You’re not one of those ‘born-agains’ are you? Those people are crazy.” Rather than getting defensive I’ve learned to simply smile and respond, “Yes, as a matter of fact we are.”
The phrase as used today carries a lot of baggage, but when Jesus first used it in his conversation with Nicodemus, He was expressly asking Nicodemus to shrug off a lot of his baggage. As a Pharisee and a Jewish leader, Nicodemus’ understanding of God carried with it a lot of baggage regarding race and politics. The Jews were starting to forget that they were supposed to be a light and a blessing to the world and were more and more getting lost in their own elitist, egocentric subculture. The rules and laws for being a follower of God were growing more and more burdensome as each and every teacher added their interpretation on top of all that had gone before. Nicodemus himself would have been a man in his forties or more at a time when life expectancy meant he had a reasonable expectation to be gone in decade. Most of his life was behind him.
React: The call of Jesus is the same call as it is today to those who would chose to follow him. Put aside the burdens, the pains, the memories, the sins of your past. Be born anew and come follow me. Lay down your ideas and presuppositions and expectations for what it means to be religious. Be born anew and just follow me. Put down that political and ethnic bias. Drop off your prejudices about those of another age race and religion. I love everybody. Be born anew and come follow me. It is time to surrender everything. It is time to start all over. Or rather, it is time for Me (Jesus) to create a new beginning in you. It is time to be born again.
God, I am Yours. I lay aside everything. I lay down my preconceptions. I lay down my prejudices. I lay down my past. Most of all, I lay down my sin. I know that I can only do this because You have paid the penalty for it when You died on the cross. You paid there the punishment for my sins and my failures. There are no words that can express how grateful I am for that sacrifice. I acknowledge that it is only through the cross that I have any right to come to You now. You are my Savior. I lay aside everything so that You can wash me and make me new. Like a newborn child I acknowledge my complete and total dependence on You. All that I have, all that I am, is Yours.