Word for Wednesday…Regeneration
(Note: For the Advent Season we are doing a series on the gifts of God. For these four weeks, the “Word for Wednesday” will be a follow-up from the preceding Sunday.)
Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above"John 3:3, NRSV
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!2 Corinthians 5:17, NRSV
Every so often I will find myself in the midst of a conversation with one of my children and I will feel as if we are speaking in two different languages and, as a result, failing to understand each other. Sometimes the barrier is built from their use of particular words that I’m not familiar with. Other times it has to do with the number of years that separate us. Regardless of the reason, with enough time and patience, we can usually find a way to communicate our intended message to each other. Agreeing with each other all the time, however, has so far eluded us. The conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus resembles a conversation between me and one of my children, except it was only Nicodemus who was struggling to understand. Jesus was trying to explain how to see or understand the Kingdom of God, and Nicodemus was just not getting it. Jesus was talking about a spiritual reality, in a spiritual language, and this was unfortunately a language that Nicodemus was not familiar with. In order to understand, Nicodemus would have to be born again, born from above. He would have to have a spiritual rebirth before any of it would make sense to him. You and I are in the very same predicament. We cannot understand spiritual things until we are born again from above. This is where the gift of regeneration comes in. Regeneration is where, by God’s grace, we can be born for a second time and experience a whole new way of being in the world, a new life that is animated by the Spirit of God living within us. When we are born again in this way, we become, to borrow a phrase from Paul, a “new creation.” The part of us that did not understand or care about spiritual things slowly ceases to exist, and the new part, the spiritual part, begins to grow and mature as we become more and more like Jesus.As you receive this gift there will be people who don’t understand your commitment to Jesus, and your decision to make following him your greatest priority. Instead of becoming frustrated, share this gift of regeneration with them, and pray that they too will receive it.