One of the cardinal rules of writing is to consider the readers. For example, If writing a child’s book, the author should use familiar words and simple language that a child would understand. If writing for divorced people, the author would consider the situation those people would be experiencing.
The author of this devotional I’m using does an odd thing. He is writing a Christian devotional where most readers would be Christians, yet he continually tells his readers how to become Christians. Perhaps his supposes his readers may only think they are saved? Or that the church is filled with religious people who do not know God in a personal relationship, that their faith is in their church-going rather than in Jesus Christ?
Whatever his reasoning, I realize even those whose faith is solid need to hear the gospel and be thankful that God has saved them. I also need to hear the gospel expressed for God expects me to share it with others. Today’s reading points to a passage where Jesus did just that with a religious man who perhaps had doubts about his standing with God because he came to Jesus secretly . . .
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:1–8)
Those who want to be Christians but scoff at the idea of being ‘born again’ do not like this passage. One of them said to me, “You people divide Christians into two groups, elevating yourselves as the ‘born agains’ and putting the rest of us down.”
Nicodemus didn’t talk like that, nor do I know any ‘born again’ people who think there are two classifications of Christians. In this conversation, Jesus makes it clear that no one can “see” or “enter” the kingdom of God without the experience of being made new or reborn. It is by this new life that Christianity becomes understandable. Without it, Christian concepts are blurry and misunderstood.
This does not make ‘born again’ Christians an elite group that can put themselves above others, particularly others who claim to be Christian but have never had that experience. If we did that, it means we have become spiritually proud and forgotten how we were saved in the first place.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9)
Salvation is God’s doing. Not only that, my Christian life is also God’s doing. I’m to walk with Him in the same manner as He saved me — in total dependence upon Him, not on my own strength:
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6–7)
I received Him by faith and through being transformed into a new way of life by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is how I must also live, not as I once did — by my own wits and motivated by self-serving desires — but by faith and by the power of that new life — His life in me.
Jesus, it is good to be reminded of the way of salvation for this is how You want me to live today. I have already been reborn, so that does not have to happen again. However, I am to live in the power of that new life. Habit and that old nature make it easy to slip into former worldly and sinful ways of thinking, trying to impress others, exalting myself instead of You, and concerned only with me, myself, and I. Thank You for reminding me that I have a new life — and today is a good day to live accordingly.