What does it mean to be born again? Are you born again? If you’ve grown up in the United States within the past fifty or so years it’s unlikely you’ve not heard that phrase somewhere: in certain circles it even carries a negative connotation–appearing indicative of radical right wing conservatism. Yet regardless of which side of the political spectrum you find yourself on, it is essential for each and every one of us to understand this short phrase and its life-altering implications.
“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned [understood].” (I Corinthians 2:14)
Lets face it–there really are two distinct ways to live our lives. We can either go through our days making our decisions based on what we want–in a spiritual haze, oblivious to the will or even existence of God, and certainly not feeling His favor on us–or living every moment in fellowship with Him, guided by the power of His Holy Spirit into thinking, speaking and living that is right and good. And these two human conditions do not overlap–you either fall into one camp or the other, never a bit into both.
Now, I am personally convinced that God works in each and every one of our lives to a certain degree to get us to sit up and become aware of Him, but each of us responds differently to Him. Some of us light up and get genuinely excited that He does, after all, exist and care for and love us; others do their best to pretend He doesn’t, that their frail human bodies will never wear out and die, and that they will never stand in Judgment before Him accountable for their willful ignorance of His grace.
It is essential for all of us as human beings–who are, in the end, mortal–to understand that God does exist. And, it is ironic, in a way, that that which is most significant in life is intangible and invisible. And while it is possible for us to recognize that intangibles we cannot hold in our hands–such as love, hope, and peace–are actually more significant than material things, it becomes exponentially more difficult for us to acknowledge that the invisible–God, and living in a right relationship with Him–are even more so! We are tempted to lie to ourselves and call it make-believe or wishful thinking or the fanciful concoction of human beings, whereas it is, in fact, nothing of the sort.
The criteria for determining whether something is true or not has always been evidence, not visibility to the naked eye. Gravity is invisible, yet we ignore it to our significant detriment. Subatomic particles are invisible, yet they can destroy cities. Even the wind is invisible, but it can be a mighty force to be reckoned with, as the residents of the ravages of Hurricane Sandy or Katrina will attest to.
The existence of God is evidenced, among various other ways, by His activity through His Spirit–just as the existence of the wind is evidenced by the blowing leaves :
“Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water [physical birth] and the Spirit [becoming “born again”]. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’” (John 3:5-8)
The new birth–being born again by the Spirit of the holy God–is a supernatural occurance that cannot be physically observed, yet it is as impossible to miss as the after-effects of an atomic bomb!
Yet, almost as significant as the actual new birth is the fact that once we have experienced it, we are then empowered by a force alternately called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, or the Holy Spirit–the power of the very God who created the universe and beyond, the time-space continuum and reality itself, is now at work in me!
To wrap it up, what does it mean to be born again? Being born again is recognizing the realm of the invisible–having come to an understanding that just as the unseen forces of nature are more substantial entities to be reckoned with than those which are seen, the invisible God and His activity is existentially and more essentially significant than anything we can observe with our eyes–and submitting to and agreeing with Him, and trusting in the forgiveness and acceptance He has provided through Christ! So, are YOU born again?
Dear Holy God,