A new year brings thoughts of change. We like to start with a clean slate with plans to be a better person. We might even feel like the new year is a chance to be “reborn”. The problem comes when we forget that our current mindsets, habits, and ideas have gotten us to where we are. When babies are born, they don’t have any of those (mindsets, habits, and ideas). They really are a blank slate. If we want significant change in our lives, we can’t be “reborn” with the baggage of wrong thinking and habits. This is true for our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual lives; and it’s hard!
Jesus talked about being reborn in John 3, and confused the heck out of a religious leader named Nicodemus. Nicodemus had come to Jesus at night, presumably because he didn’t want anyone of his colleagues to know of it. He admitted they all knew Jesus was from God because of what Jesus was accomplishing. The problem was: Jesus wasn’t meeting their expectations. They thought they had God figured out. Jesus responded to Nicodemus’s statement of “faith” by saying he couldn’t even see God’s kingdom, much less enter it, unless he was born anew, by water and spirit. This leads to our Monday question for God: “Say what?” Or as Nicodemus phrased it, “How are these things possible?”
You see, the religious leaders, although they knew God’s Law and His Word, had some wrong ideas because they lacked His Spirit. They needed to have the slate wiped clean and be born anew. We all do. Forget what you thought you knew, Nicodemus. God’s kingdom isn’t what you think it is! Perhaps they thought it was about legalism and condemning wrong-doers. But Jesus said, “God didn’t send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save it” (vs. 17). Turns out the world already stands condemned and God is trying to save it. Think about it like this, many people don’t want to go to church because they think church folk are too judgmental. Jesus’ point here is you can’t avoid it. We’re already judged and found guilty, and not by church people. Our only hope is to admit we’re guilty and believe in Jesus so our spirits can be born anew and we can be set right. God’s Spirit teaches us correctly when we are willing to be taught.
Paul expressed this well in Romans 12:1-2, “So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.”
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to be reborn this year, by water and spirit. 2012 is a great time for a clean slate!