John 3:5-8 (NIV)
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 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.”
I had the privilege of being present for the birth of each of our three children. While the birth of each child was unique, and each birth process had its challenges and blessings, there is one experience that was consistent in all three cases—when we looked into the eyes of our baby, our hearts were full of utter delight. The innocence, dependence, and “take it all in” gleam in a baby’s eyes is so profound, isn’t it? Love overtakes us. The biblical phrase, “new creation” takes on a whole new meaning.
The Father took delight when we were born into the world. We were beloved before we even made a sound. And when we were born again, that delight must have gone to another level. Jesus says to Nicodemus that a person must be “born of water and the Spirit” to enter into the fullness of the Kingdom of God.
While scholars have been writing books about the mysteries swirling in this passage for millennia, being “born of the Spirit” remains a living reality for the awakened heart. We were one type of person, thinking, feeling, and acting one way—and then we met Jesus. We believed. Our eyes were opened. Something happened, and began to happen in our hearts; we re-came into the world a new creation.
What happened? The Holy Spirit was now living in us. Like the wind Jesus describes in the passage above, we didn’t see it coming. We didn’t always know where the Holy Spirit was taking us along the way. But we trusted the wind of God’s Spirit. We had a wonderful counselor at work within our spirits, opening us up to God’s love (Rom. 5:5) and guiding us into new life (John 16:13).
We had become, truly, a “new creation” in Christ, starting fresh with eyes wide open, “taking it all in,” as even the world around us seemed to become new. We began to learn that moving with the Holy Spirit is more like a dance than a hike. He leads us, and he guides us, often into the same places our feet have been before. And we see those places with new vision!
I have a friend who was caught up in many of the dark things this world has to offer. On the day he came to faith in Jesus, the only words I could use to describe the transformation were, “new birth.” He was hard and hateful one moment, and in the next (with a journey of discipleship and maturation in faith ahead), he had the innocence of a newborn babe sparkling in his eyes. Jesus’ love met him. Jesus’ love transformed him. And Jesus’ love gave him new birth.
Many of us have witnessed this new-beginning-transformation again and again, and I am eager to see that work of transformation continue until I am conformed to Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 1 Peter 1:3-4a says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Thank you, Lord, for new creation life! Thank you, Lord, for a new and living hope!
Jesus, I receive the Holy Spirit. Let the maturing work you began as I awoke to new life, a new creation, a twice-born follower, continue until I become like Jesus. Come, Holy Spirit, work in me, from the inside out, into new ways of seeing and understanding the world around me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Was there a moment, or a period of time, to which you could point when you were born again by the Spirit? If so, what was that season like, and how is the maturing process going?
For the awakening,