Everybody who reads this has been born. Sure, we can playfully call attention to the obvious. But the next topic, spiritual birth, isn’t as obvious.
John’s Gospel reveals a great story about Jesus meeting a man named Nicodemus, someone described as “a leader of the Jews” (John 3:1). Jesus spoke with Nicodemus about spiritual birth, and how it is God’s plan for us to receive a second, spiritual birth via God’s Spirit. Nicodemus didn’t get it at first because he was not able to see beyond the literal physical birth. However, we can grasp what Jesus meant if we can appreciate the power of his analogy.
The biblical story of spiritual rebirth can, at the very least, inspire us to consider how we are born into two worlds. The first world is that of the material earth and it involves our physical birth, a process over which we don’t have any choice. The second birth, which is what Jesus discussed, is spiritual, and this is something we can receive if we so choose.
Many of us have heard the cries of those who have co-opted Jesus’ idea of spiritual birth. Using biblical themes as a weapon is as common as the air we breathe, and so when we consider spiritual birth and being “born again,” we don’t have to simultaneously adopt a narrow theology turned into a partisan slogan. We can take Jesus’ analogy for what it is, a provocative metaphor that begins to describe the beauty and miracle of understanding, growing, and sharing a spiritual life.
Spiritual birth can mean that we have been transformed or made aware of spiritual realities. The chief reality for us as followers of “The Way” is that God has a plan of redemption. We therefore accept entrance into an intentional spiritual life when we yearn for and accept forgiveness and reconciliation through God’s Spirit (because God is Spirit). We become true to God when we are spiritually reborn into God’s Kingdom, which is both a present reality and a future hope.
Jesus describes Spirit as wind, and yet we can’t see the wind. Admittedly, there is a sense of mystery surrounding spiritual birth. The Spirit, like the wind, blows where it wills, and is not easily controlled, domesticated or predicted. So how do we know that the Spirit is with us? You can tell when the wind is blowing because you feel it or see what it does. Indeed, it is the effect of a spirit that alerts us to its presence. Therefore we can perceive God at work when we are spiritually reborn as active agents of God’s love and truth.
Are you reminded of your spiritual nature? Have you been born of the spirit as Jesus described? Being born again is more than a trite slogan foisted by red-faced fundamentalists thumping their thick black Bibles. Spiritual birth is a crucial concept for understanding how faith can transform us and unlock our fullest potential.
How does spiritual birth occur? We must be open to and aware of God and then deliberately, consciously accept what God has for us. We must desire to have God’s spiritual winds cast a reviving rush of new life. As we are being transformed we are blessed with the evidence of the Spirit revealed in us and through us. Choose spiritual rebirth and you’ll experience heights of meaning and purpose not possible any other way.