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Jesus replied, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter his mother’s womb and be born a second time, can he?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit.
The Jewish leaders took their birthright very seriously. Remember how Esau didn’t and got cursed? What family you were born into was everything, especially if you were born into God’s chosen people. For Jesus to tell Nicodemus that he has to be born all over again was an impossible demand.
There are plenty of things that we do every day that are really good. We even do things that are kind beyond anyone in the world could ever imagine. That would be Nicodemus. If he was a Pharisee like the Bible and history tell us, then he was about the best of all of the good people. He had a Ph.D. in do-goodery. He had dedicated his entire life to doing just what God had told him to do. But he was born wrong from the start.
The Christian life isn't just good, it's on a whole order of magnitude different than natural do-goodery life. It is so shockingly different that when we hear the demands of Christ, we can be shocked into utter dependence on His mercy.
Is the response that the natural-born person gives when they see the life that Christ demands.
Help me! Live it out in me!
Is just the response that the Spirit brings about inside of us. To live the Christian life, we have to be born all over again, as a new species, into a new family. We need a new lineage that isn't submissive to the Devil and that is exempt from the fallen creation.
Ask somebody that is living the Christian life and they'll tell you. It's like being born all over again.
If you don't feel it yet, don't panic. Birth is an event but growth is a process. It takes some people 80 years to fully grasp what they were born to be. Go for it.