To Be Born Again

Jun 29, 2020

To be born again is like snipping away, one by one, at the ties that bind us to the earth, to the world and all its priorities and solutions. It is like letting go of all that limits us. It is like being in a course that asks us to let go of everything we learned at home, in school, in life and to absorb a whole new way of living and being. It is giving up being in charge of our lives. It is being in the world, but not of the world.[1] It is a life-long school that God invites us into where we learn how to throw off our very human nature and learn how to see and to be how Jesus was and how he saw the world and its people. This is what it means to be born again. [2]

 

Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit is our teacher and, one by one, He brings up our issues and sufferings, highlighting for us all that would keep us attached to the world. As He highlights each attachment, He asks us to allow Him to heal us of each pattern of thought or action that binds us to this earth, in order that we may truly love Him with all of ourselves—heart, soul, mind and body.[3] And as we surrender our will in everything in our lives to Him, we begin to feel the freedom to just be who we were created to be. And we open ourselves up to His leading in everything we say and do.

 

I’ve come to think of this as a lifelong process, mostly because I am astounded how, after 39+ years in His care, I am still a captive of my thoughts, grumblings, fear and anxiety, etc., even as He has healed me of so much of what has bound me to this earth and freed me from its influence! To be born-again means that we have said a giant “YES!” to Christ: “yes, I will follow you;” “yes, I will do what you say;” “yes, I will love you first and foremost.” And that giant “YES!” is when we really start the journey to living in the mind of Christ.

 

It is humbling to read Ecclesiastes 7:20: “There is not a righteous person on earth who always does good and never sins.” Or to read Paul’s confession, “I don’t understand what I do.  For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do.”[4] Certainly we are not perfect people consistently obeying God’s word in everything we say and do.

 

There is much we can do as we follow Jesus. We can learn to love ourselves, because I don’t think we can love anyone else until we can love and forgive ourselves. We can forgive everyone in our lives for whatever they did or do that upsets us. We can constantly offer up our faults and sins to God who does love and forgive us. We can live in the truth about ourselves, always admitting to God what we have done wrong, for “the truth shall set you free.”[5] The Bible gives us so much good guidance on who we are to become and we have such an amazing model in Jesus Christ himself, who became a man and lived on this earth showing us how to love and respect and even to call out the wrongdoers, but who remained faithful to God through everything, including his death on the cross.

 

Jesus died, but was reborn. And so are we to die to our very human selves and be reborn to live in Christ’s mind.[6] That is the process we enter into when we say “Yes!” to Christ. He is giving us the gift of a new life in Him as we shed this life that so binds us. And we are forever changed, even as we live out some of the very human stuff that is still a part of us. But as we travel with the Spirit and allow Him to redirect our lives, we become ever more grateful and adoring of Him who has freed us from the ultimate slavery, the slavery of the world-bound. Even if we are not yet perfect, still we are a long way from the way we were. And just a word about being perfect: when Jesus said, “Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect,”[7] the Greek word teleios means perfect in the sense of completeness, wholeness, maturity.[8] I might restate that passage to read: “Be all that you are, all that you were created to be.” And that, of course, means that we must have given our whole lives to God in order to live as He created us to be.

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Questions to ponder over the week: Have I been born again? What has been my experience of the presence of God in my life?  If not, what would it take for me to answer God’s call? Do I even believe that there is a life that I was created to live? Am I fulfilled in my present way of living? Do I have a sense of purpose? Of joy in what I do? What do I long for?

 

Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who are born again and who follow Jesus faithfully. May we have given over control of our lives to Christ. May we live graced by the fruit of the Spirit: peace, joy, love patience, goodness kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.[Galatians 5:22-23]

 

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Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life. New posts 2x a month. 6.22.20s is entitled, “The Life That Awaits You.”

 

[1] John 17:14-16, John 15:19, John 8:22-24, 1 John 4:5, Romans 12:1-2 and more

[2] John 3:3-8, 1 Peter 1:3, 2 Corinthians 5:17

[3] Mark 12:30-31, Matthew 22:37, Luke 10:27

[4] Romans 7:15

[5] John 8:32

[6] 1 Corinthians 2:14-16

[7] Matthew 5:48

[8] Goodrick & Kohlenberger, Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance, 2nd Edition, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1999, Strong’s #5455, p. 1596

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