June 8, 2015

Born Again?

I told the story in worship I once read about the Archbishop of Canterbury being ask if Jesus Christ was his "personal" lord and savior. To which he responded: "No, I like to share him with others". This humorously points to the divide at times between more fundamentalist conservative Christians who focus on the personal and "right beliefs"; and the more progressive social orientated ones who focus on God and the corporate nature of faith. The question sometimes gets abruptly posed: have you been born again? And often with a "got ya", you are not making it through the pearly gates tone; rather than an invitation to open one's mind and heart a bit wider.

It seems Jesus started all this controversy when Nicodemus came to him hoping to get a little religion in his life and Jesus startled him by saying that no one can see or relate to God without being born again, or born from above. He added you must be born of water and spirit, not only flesh. Nicodemus asked a silly question about how someone can go back into their mothers womb and be born a second time, which I think was less about biology and more about his surprise about how radical this change or new way of seeing and living life must be.

Nicodemus thought religion was being a nice guy, paying your tithe, and not kicking the dog. Jesus seems to be saying its a lot more than that and at times not so easy.

I do not remember being born but I remember my children being born and it changed my life forever. Nothing in this world compares. For the mom and the new born even more so. No wonder Nicodemus could not believe it. To say that faith may take a while; that you may get all wet and mushy; it may be dark and you may be crying at times and it can really hurt; that you are heavily dependent on and even feel inseparable from another; that the way is narrow and you have to grasp for your first breathe as you see the light of day for the first time...and everything is brand new - everything . Well, for faith to be like that, its almost unbelievable.

Jesus enjoyed and relished the material world but he wanted us to see that life was more than what we eat or wear or worry about. In its fullest and happiest it is about the Spirit we bring to it: relationships, caring, reaching out, including, kindness and mercy. Trying to live with this in mind is like being born again each new day.


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