Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” Verse 3 (NIV)
While speaking with some friends in Tanzania I learned that if you were a moderate Hindu you could believe in Jesus. The issue for the missionaries was not that these people believed in Jesus, but would they abandon all the other gods they believed in and embraced Jesus alone?
Faith in Jesus is not an add-on to our lives or an accessory we can just pay attention to once in a while. Our faith in Jesus is meant to transform our entire being so that we are changed and become newly born, newly created.
Nicodemus came to Jesus with questions. And Jesus used the image of being “born again” to help Nicodemus understand how radically we must change to become his followers. Jesus said that the only ones who can experience the kingdom and understand his teaching are those who are born again. To explain further, he said we need to be “born of water and the Spirit.”
Today we tend to associate the idea of being “born again” with a dramatic conversion story. But rebirth in Christ is not a one-time event; discipleship involves a continuous dying and rising with Christ. As we grow in faith, Jesus cleanses us from sin and reshapes us in his own image. Again, and again, we must allow him to reshape our priorities, change our attitudes, and empower us for service. This is what Paul was challenging us to do in Philippians 2:12, when he wrote to “work out our salvation.”
Lord, continue to show me how I must be born again. Show me the parts of myself that need to be cleansed and changed and make me new in your perfect image. Amen.