John 3:5-8: “Jesus replied, ‘I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
A devotional today directed me toward John 3:16, but I decided to backtrack. I hadn’t realized that the world-famous statement made by Jesus in verse 16 was directed toward just one individual, not a crowd. I wanted a bit more background about this Pharisee Nicodemus, so I read all of John’s Chapter 3 in which Jesus was answering his questions and explaining things that neither Nicodemus nor I understood.
The one that grabbed me was Jesus’ explanation about being “born again.”
I’ve hated that phrase since I first heard it, not understanding what it meant, just that it was spoken by people who put themselves above me in terms of their relationship to God—an affront for any rule-abiding Catholic.
In my head, the phrase born again still makes me think of dreamy-looking people dancing and shaking tambourines in cult-like fanaticism, separate from and scoffed at by normal people like me. But maybe I had my groups mixed up. There were so many in the 1970s.
Still, the phrase bugs me.
I continued to hate it even after I, myself, was “born again.” I would never have referred to myself in that fashion. But it’s true, and it happened to me over the summer of 1999, sitting lakeside, crying out to God in desperation.
It strikes me now that I spent a lot of years after my “salvation summer” just like Nicodemus—as an “undercover believer.”
I didn’t want to be categorized as one of those whack-a-doodles with glossy eyes and dirty feet banging on a tambourine. (Yeah. Different group, I think.)
Father, please forgive me for denying You. Because that’s what I’ve done by not speaking up. Oh, I’ve become a little more bold over time, but it’s more like sticking a toe in to test the water before jumping in fully, with arms and heart wide open.
I think that’s why I’ve procrastinated on starting the blog for as long as I have. It’s not laziness or distractibility or being too busy as I keep telling myself and You; it’s that I’m still far too concerned with people’s opinions of me when Yours is the only one that counts.
So Father, I thank You for pinging me this morning with my likeness to Nicodemus. He moved much quicker than me once he experienced spiritual rebirth. But better late than never, and today is my day. Finishing The Book was a leap forward. Today I take it to the next level by obeying the nudging You placed on my heart years ago—to speak up about what it has meant to me to have been reborn in You.
Born again. Yup. That’s me. Thanks to Your Son and to Your Holy Spirit, that’s me. Amen.