Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. 1 Peter 1:21-23
In our church we’re working our way through John’s gospel. This past Sunday we were in John 3 and our pastor was preaching about that term. You know the one…the one in John 3 that has so much baggage attached to it? The one that can make us feel awkward or just plain fanatical at its mention. That term that most of us Christians today really hesitate to use.
What’s the deal with that phrase? Why do we shy away from it? Is it the weird, out of touch Christians we’ve known who seem to throw those words at people like they explains everything at their mere mention? Is it TV evangelism that’s given us cause to shy away? Probably. And for a lot of other reasons too. People can sometimes take the great and awesome truths of the Bible and distort them. They (and by “they” I mean us) can sometimes ruin the beauty and imagery of biblical word pictures with all our own junk. So for a lot of us this phrase born again has some baggage.
But Sunday we were reminded that this is indeed a Biblical phrase. It’s a Jesus phrase. And no matter what our own issues with it might be, if Jesus calls us to be born again we should probably stop trying to insert our own verbage and instead redeem the description given to us. We are born again. When we came to and accept Christ we started new and fresh. We hit the reset button.
I like how Peter writes about it in 1 Peter. “You have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end.” Some translations say something like, “not of perishable seed, but of imperishable”. What good news! Why did we think we needed better terminology again?
We’ve been born again. Born of immortal stock. Sure we still face death on this earth, death for our bodies. But it’s temporary. It’s just for a time. And even then it’s only for the physical. The spiritual knows no death. And the day will come crashing in where Jesus returns and restores and reunites soul and body and resurrection commences.
But notice why Peter even mentions it. Why he even brings up this truth that we’ve been born again. It’s the context for why we should love one another deeply. We have all eternity in front of us. Eternity with and because of the great glory of the resurrected Jesus. Does this not stir us to love well? To love deeply? It should.
We have, because of Jesus, been forgiven, cleansed, made new. Our heart of stone has been replaced with a heart of flesh. We’ve been washed and cleaned up and given a new beginning. We’ve been given all this and never have deserved it. How can we not show great and amazing love for others?
We are the born again. The new starters. Those of the glorious, resurrected One. Yes, I think it is time to redeem this phrase; to reclaim our high and honorable moniker. We are born again. And this truth stirs within in us a deep love and sincerity. We have been given much—been given all—and there is no reason why we should not embrace these words of Jesus.
“I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” John 3:3