Summary: To be born again is not a stopping place, but just the beginning!
“Are You One of those Born Again Christians I Hear About on CNN?”
by: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor, Grace United Methodist Church, Soddy Daisy, TN www.graceumcsd.org
In their book Justice in the Burbs: Being the Hands of Jesus Wherever You Live authors Will and Lisa Samson write:
“a simplistic reading of Scripture has utilized the Bible to justify a lack of care for the poor, the trashing of the planet and discrimination against women…”
They go on to write, “It’s hard to convince the world that Jesus cares when we don’t…
The church in America seems far more enamored by the governmental process than by the sacrificial act of giving to each other and to a world in need.
Judging by our actions, it seems we would rather show up every four years and vote than show up every day to be the agents of God’s work in the world.
Our actions send a clear message to those in need: ‘We don’t really care about you.’
Recently the work of the church, particularly the American evangelical church, has come to be perceived as being more about power and control than about bringing the love of Christ to the world.
We have become like a distant parent who says he or she loves the child but shows up only when it’s time to discipline him.
This has significant impact on the church and the culture’s understanding of the gospel.
The wonderful story of redemption available by converting to the way of Jesus becomes an empty slogan on the march to political dominance.”
That’s a pretty heavy statement, but I’m afraid there is much truth to it…much too much truth!
Back in 1976, Jimmy Carter was running against President Gerald Ford.
And those of you who are old enough or those of you who have studied up on recent American history might recall that Jimmy Carter caused quite a bit of a sensation.
This was because during his campaign, Jimmy Carter said publicly that he was a born again Christian.
It caused quite a stir, and it was a term that was used about him over and over again.
Wow…Jimmy Carter is not just your ordinary run of the mill Christian.
He is a born again Christian!!!
Thus, the term “born again Christian” became a very well-known term…and a very well-used and often-times misused term in American pop-culture.
When I was a kid, I had heard about born again Christians…
…I had even met a few…
…but I didn’t understand the concept.
I thought that a born again Christian was a person who had once been a Christian…
…had somehow stopped being a Christian at some point…
…and then had become a Christian again.
Somehow, it seemed to me, that they had messed things up somewhere along the way…
…whereas the rest of us had stayed the course.
It wasn’t until I had my own born again experience that I began to understand in a very real and tangible way what Jesus was trying to get across to Nicodemus in our Gospel Lesson for this morning.
Jesus said, “Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above,” which means the same thing as born again, “it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—God’s kingdom.”
Are we able to get a glimpse of God’s Kingdom?
Are we a part of that Kingdom?
A couple months ago a friend of mine was teaching his Youth Group about what it means to follow Jesus Christ…
…to be a disciple.
In the middle of his dissertation, a hand suddenly flew-up.
A pretty young blond haired girl chimed in, “But what about those born again-kind of Christians?”
To which my friend explained that there is actually no other sort.
If you are a Christian, then you are a born again Christian.
In fact, there’s no such thing as a non-born again Christian…that would be an oxymoron.
“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
Or as The Message puts it: “When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch.
But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.
So don’t be surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak.”
The Kingdom of God is Spiritual.
And to enter it and to see it, we must be born of God’s Spirit.
Being born again involves surrendering.
Being willing to be pushed out of the darkness, and into the glorious light of God.
But what happens after that?
Are we just born again, and then “poof” that’s it?
I love the way Paul answers that question in Ephesians Chapter 2: