02-28-16 You Must Be Born Again...

Hello!  I hope that this Sunday Morning Update finds you and your household warm, loved, and growing closer to the Lord this week.  I know that this has been a complicated week for a lot of people, so we all have a lot to pray for, as well as to be thankful for.

For instance, my Uncle Bill has been stuck in the hospital for weeks now, and he finally had a procedure mid-week which (in conjunction with some new medications) should hopefully help his heart be strong enough so that he can get home and spend some time with his dog, who misses him.  I also got to meet with Ken Peryam (for only a few minutes, since this was on the same day as my uncle’s procedure), who is going a little stir crazy stuck at home for the next couple of months while his bones heal enough for him to walk on his shattered leg again.  So the very thing that’s driving Ken nuts--sitting around his own home--is the very thing that my Uncle Bill is totally looking forward to being able to do again.

My point is that we all need to be able to give thanks to God for where we’re at in life, and we all need to be able to pray for those around us who may even be struggling with the things that we see as blessings.  Happiness is a situational thing, but joy is a decision--so take a moment to check to see what your attitude is doing to your day today.

In our sermon this week, we took one week to look at something that recently came up in our Youth Group.  None of our kids could articulate what Jesus meant by “You must be born again” (though, to be fair, an adult who’s been a Christian for decades later told me that they weren’t sure how to articulate it, either).  But since Jesus said that you must be born again--that “no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3)--then as Christians, we all really should work to wrap our heads around that.

This week, my uncle kept joking to doctors and nurses that what he really needed was a new heart, and that’s true for us as Christians as well. God’s not in the heart repair business--He’s in the heart transplant business.  He doesn’t want to improve our existing lives--He wants to demolish our existing lives, and rebuild them as something completely new (see 2 Corinthians 5:17).  He isn’t just extending our social networks--He’s bought us adoption into a brand new family (see Romans 8:15). 

So I agree with Dietrich Bonhoeffer that “when Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die”--which is why Paul links baptism (symbolic of dying and coming back up alive again) with our new life as new creations in Christ (see Romans 6:4). 

But to be honest, we’re only being called to die to the dead way of life that we’d been born into in the first place (see 1 Peter 1:18)--we’re just scraping off all of the old, dead tissue in our lives so that new, healthy tissue can take its place.  So, when you think about it, it’s a bit of a misnomer to talk about “born again Christians” because there’s no other kind of Christians out there except “born again” ones.  We’ve either made the decision to move from death to life, or we haven’t--and if we haven’t personally made that decision, then we’re still lost without Christ (see John 3:18).

So help me out here--now that we’ve discussed this need for people to make a specific decision to follow Christ, what responsibility does that lay on you and me today?  If we must believe in our hearts and declare with our mouths that Jesus is Lord in order to be saved (see Romans 10:9), do you have to make a decision today?  And if you have made that decision for Christ, how can you help others to do the same (see Romans 10:14)?