[Nicodemus] came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”
John 3:2–3 (NRSV)
It was a common occurrence in church circles to hear an exchange like this:
“Do you know Jesus?”
“I go to church; I’m a Christian.”
“But, are you born again?”
In the 60’s there was not only the Sexual Revolution but a resurgence of interest in Jesus. One favorite song from that time stated, “I’m not religious, I just love the Lord.”
Many people grew tired of the formal dead religion in many mainline churches of the 50’s and 60’s and were looking for more. They saw many Christian who were Christians in name only (nominal Christians), with little evidence of godly character. They wanted more from their relationship with Jesus.
If fact, that is what they sought, a relationship with Jesus, a real conversion, not just mental agreement with a few doctrines. They began to experience authentic conversion and invite others to do the same they became Jesus People.
Some in the movement wanted to be distinguished from the nominal Christians they knew and so latched on the term “born again.”
There have been other movements that sought to do the same thing. People identified themselves as Spirit-filled, Full-Gospel, and nowadays, Followers of Jesus. The one thing these monikers have in common is a desire to have a genuine experience of conversion – being born again.
The passage above translates the term accurately, "born from above." You can readily see Nicodemus’ confusion. He took the phrase quite literally and wondered how it was even possible.
Jesus was speaking in spiritual terms, as he often did. What does it mean to be born from above? Being born from above means that we have had an authentic experience of conversion with a sincere desire for our values, motivations, and ethics to be shaped from the perspective of the kingdom of God.
In this way, God rescues us from the self-centeredness of our lives and frees us for life as God meant it to be.
Join me Sunday are we talk more about this part of God’s Rescue plan for us.