“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again”
– John 3 v 3
This phrase, ‘born again Christian’ is one of those overused pieces of jargon. Many people use it, and so many have different understandings for what it means. It’s always been a weird phrase for me.
But more recently I’m coming to understand it in a new way.
Let’s begin with looking at giving birth, then birth itself, and then see where this takes us.
Giving birth can be painful, difficult, prolonged and, in some cases, even life threatening. The process of carrying a baby getting heavier by the day, and then the birth, isn’t an easy, pain-free experience for anyone. It’s truly life altering. But at the end, you have this new life. You feel joy and love like never before. I’ve never met a mother who would swap the joy of loving and raising her child for the pain of giving birth.
However, none of us remember our own birth, We are born, and at some point we become aware of our own existence. Our own separateness from others, our own individuality and unique identity. We notice it in ourselves, and others point things out to us, so we gradually begin to understand who we are.
Now, when we enter into a process of transformation, when we make the big commitment to change in our own lives, the process can be painful, long, and difficult. But the result can be life-giving, it can bring us joy…and we often don’t realise it’s happened until some time after.
In the last year or so I’ve been undergoing a personal journey of transformation. I’ve willingly submitted to being led to my really dark places, places I’ve not really confronted for decades. Pain from the past as yet unresolved. And I’ve begun to look at new rhythms and patterns for my life. I’m changing jobs, leaving my past working life behind
Initially, a few months back, I was in a very dark place. Depressed. Lost. Full of anxiety and low moods. But I stuck it through. I knew I needed to go there and stop numbing it. I began sitting with a spiritual director regularly, and my home group supported me directly too.
I’m still in a difficult place. There’s still much unresolved. But recently I’ve begun to see how I’ve changed. How I’ve begun laying new groundwork. Others have noticed too. There is still much to do, but I can begin to see what’s been happening. I’ve begun to see the light shafts of new self emerging.
And what I’ve begun to realise, is that what I’m going through is, essentially being born again.
Jesus challenges us all to confront our demons, to feel our pain rather than numb it. Not knowing entirely where or when or how this process will end. Because it’s in those places that we can really encounter the divine. It’s in the places where we don’t want to go that God meets us by the spirit, and works with us to bring authentic transformation…and rebirth.
We confront the truth, we bring it to the light, and as it is seen plainly, the darkness in it is put to death, we healed and transformed, and new, resurrection life springs forth from the old. The spirit takes us, and transforms us, and gives birth to a redeemed and transformed self.
It’s when we see authentic change in our internal lives, and in the outward rhythms of life, that we can truly say we’ve been born again.
Insight & Inspiration:
“Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done they have done in the sight of God” – John 3 v 21
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11 v25-26
Today, go and find 10 minutes. Set a timer on your phone, and then put it on silent. Then sit down in quiet place, and slow your breathing. Breathe from your stomach, through your nose. And then invite the spirit of God to meet with you, and to bring to light areas where you need to be born again, areas where you need resurrection power. Then, write these down, and take action to confront these issues today.