It’s a super “Christianese” phrase. We like to use that term for sayings that those who aren’t Christians might not understand. There’s only one problem though. I’ve asked others what they think of when they hear the phrase and they say, “New start. Do-over. Another beginning.”
We’re afraid of the term “born again”. I don’t hear it used much anymore. In the ’90s it was thrown around a lot. Since then we’ve become “seeker sensitive” and refrain from terms that only Christians know when talking with non-Christians. Some are good to refrain from using, while this one, I believe, isn’t.
People already have an idea of some possibilities of what it could mean. Others respond the same way Nicodemus did: “How can a man enter a second time into his mother’s womb?” And that’s what it makes it a conversation starter, and in a way, even a funny conversation starter. If you can picture it, Nicodemus’ response is just classic.
The account is found in John 3. Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night, most believe because he was afraid of being caught asking Jesus questions. But he still came to Jesus while others did not. Nicodemus starts off by being nice and acknowledges that Jesus is a special individual sent from God. Jesus held nothing back from him and just blurted out what needed to be said.
Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 NASB)
Conversation starter. How would you respond to that? Now days, I think most would respond like this: “Well that’s nice,” and then walk away. Jesus went there. He actually went there, all the way, dished it out. The very requirement of entering into God’s Kingdom all on the table right in front of him.
The conversation continued to a point where Jesus was literally saying that those who don’t believe in the Name of Jesus are already judged and those who do believe are not judged (v18). Clear cut and dry, there it is.
Jesus also continues with a blanket statement about those who don’t believe in His name. They love darkness. They refuse to believe because they LOVE darkness. There’s a false sense of security in darkness, an idea that one can hide in it. But light travels into darkness and expels it regardless of how deep it is. We know that even without the scientific experiment because we all turn on the light when we enter the room.
Jesus’ name is so controversial. And rightfully so. Those who love darkness will do everything in their power to discredit, abuse, misuse, and fight against the name of Jesus. And all those who carry His name are in the cross-hairs as well. Those who’ve come into the light are now in a very subtle and even silent way holding those who love darkness to accountability. They don’t want to change because it requires change. It requires the discontinuation of sin.
But here’s the thing. Doesn’t a fresh start sound good? Aren’t there things in life you wish you could do over? Is there anything you wish you could have handled differently? Doesn’t redo sound appealing? Born again…
Jesus promises a fresh start. Not only a fresh start, but one that includes the believer in His kingdom. New purpose. New life. The do-over of our dreams. All it takes is believing in His name. That’s what He said. The renovation of our lives does require some serious “tear down and rebuilding” work though. But the fresh start with the help of Jesus makes it possible.
Right now my family is in the midst of a huge home remodel to make it so we all can fit in the same room together, the most important room together: the dining room. We ripped our walls, cabinets, floors, countertops, moved electrical, ran new dedicated lines, laid flooring, hung cabinets, poured countertop, built a pantry, and painted. It’s been almost 8 weeks now and we’re almost done. Almost… The pile of trash in our driveway is huge. You can see how much is getting thrown out. The final result is what we want though. We can all eat dinner together and fit in the same room. What we gained is three times the amount of storage and twice as much space. But the wall had to get torn down.
The biggest part of this was making the decision and committing to it. The first purchase was the deciding factor. The first step was taken: the decision.
The born again life begins with the decision and commitment to make the renovation happen. The second life we find in Jesus requires some tearing down and building up. It’s not easy work. It’s not over night. It takes longer sometimes because we run into something that holds up the project and exposes some difficult changes. But the end result is worth it. That’s what we’re working toward. It’s what we long for: a meal with the King in His Kingdom. The cool thing is, when the decision is made, He says we’re already a part of it!
So how does getting born again sound? Want a redo in life? All it starts with is believing in the Name of Jesus, that God sent Him to the world to take care of the sin problem.