Have Faith: Born again

What does that even mean?

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Sometimes I get caught up in phrases or terms that we see used in Christianity. This weekend I had a little hang-up about being “born again.” There are differing opinions on Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus documented in the Gospel of John, which reads something like this: “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.’

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

Of course Nicodemus is incredulous at this, and wants to know how someone can re-enter his mother’s womb when he is already old. Jesus repeats what he said earlier about entering the kingdom of God, but adds, “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” So my first interpretation of this is that being “born again” relates to baptism, since Jesus talks about water and the Spirit. But when I listen or read about the term in regard to various Christian denominations, it seems like born again means that a person must go through a more spiritual rebirth, a real version of a come-to-Jesus moment — a time when he or she lets go and lets God, as they say.

Letting go and letting God is tricky for someone like myself who likes to know what’s happening five days before it happens, and then wants to control the outcome ahead of time. Maybe that’s why I get so hung up on being born again. Besides, wasn’t the first time mind-blowing enough?

After an entire morning, with coffee at least, mulling this over, I’ve come to a decision as to how I’m going to interpret and feel about that particular phrase relative to Christianity.

There’s something in Catholicism that we usually call “conversion,” and I think it must be similar to the phrase “born again.” Both terms in context apply to having a deeper, “personal relationship” with Jesus. I understand this to mean that we truly live our lives the way we understand Jesus led his. The grace, forgiveness, and love He demonstrates in the Bible should be evident in our lives as well. Now that’s something to live up to. All those fundamental principles to live by seem like a no-brainer to us, but they sure are hard to carry out sometimes.

Having a personal relationship with Jesus also means to me that I would do well to work on my prayer life and all those conversations I have with Jesus. Maybe I could do less bargaining, and more expressing gratitude, and asking for forgiveness. Most of all, I could be more mindful of Jesus and the way He works in my life. I could be more mindful of all the love I receive instead of all the hate I perceive.

I’ve decided that it might be best if when I wake up in the morning, I remember that I can choose to follow Jesus’ example every single day. Instead of cursing when I see that someone used the last drop of milk and now I have none for my coffee, I can try it black, or I can run to the store and grab some milk. Better yet, I could treat myself to a coffee from Mocha Mott’s on my way in to work. Instead of rolling my eyes when my husband misplaces his keys for the 100th time this month, I could just pitch in (sans eye rolling), and help him find them. There are literally millions of things I could reconsider, and in doing so bring that grace into my life more fully. It all comes down to mindfulness, doesn’t it?

I better wrap this up — I’ve got a whole lot to work on. 

If you have news or ideas for Have Faith, email me at connie@mvtimes.com.

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. For many doctrines in Scripture there is symmetry: darkness and life, shame and boldness, the new earth and the lake of fire, blessing and cursing, freedom and bondage, and so on. The same is true with birth and death. Because of Adam’s sin, there are two possible births and two possible deaths. Once a person is born, he is certain to experience at least one of the two possible deaths. But whether he experiences two deaths or two births will depend entirely on whether he believes in the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life during his life before he dies physically. If he does not, then he will experience the second death and will never experience eternal life. But if he does believe in Jesus, then he has eternal life and will never experience the second death.

  2. Pastafarianism seems more rational and plausible all the time.
    I am also thankful that Andy clarified all this for us. I, in particular am quite relieved that Andy
    clarified the part about the “second death”. The nuns had me totally convinced that I was going to have eternal life, but it was going to be spent suffering in hell by the time I was 10.
    I will sleep better tonight knowing that I will just die and skip the eternal suffering because I didn’t agree with someone else’s opinion about what happens after our physical death.

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