1 Peter 1:3: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation.”

There are several ways to become a family member: one is to be born into a family, another is to be adopted into a family, and yet another is to marry into a family. You can very easily unfriend someone on Facebook. Unfriending a friend in real life is more difficult to do, and it gets even more complicated when it comes to family splits. Let’s say a couple goes through a divorce. It may be feasible to become an ex-in-law without ever looking back, but we all know the implications when children are involved. There is no such thing as an Ex-Dad or an Ex-Mom. However, it may be that children emotionally divorce from their parents for various reasons. If that’s the case, then deep hurt led to such friction. The natural thing is that we’re family for life.

In God’s kingdom we are dealing with such family issues. Essentially all mankind consists of God’s children, some are estranged, some are brought near. Peter refers to the event of coming back together as born again. So does Jesus in his conversation with a scholar named Nicodemus. Here is an excerpt of the conversation (John 3:3-5):

“Jesus replied, ‘With all the earnestness I possess I tell you this: Unless you are born again, you can never get into the Kingdom of God.’ – ‘Born again!’ exclaimed Nicodemus. ‘What do you mean? How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?’ – Jesus replied, ‘What I am telling you so earnestly is this: unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.’”

According to Jesus, the kingdom of God consists of family members only. In order to become a family member human beings have to be born again. Nicodemus’ confusion is understandable. It’s physically unfeasible to insert an already born creature back into the mother’s womb to repeat the birth procedure. So Jesus points out that rebirth is not referring to our physical being but to our spiritual being, and that’s where Jesus lost Nicodemus. Dumbfounded he asks Jesus: ‘What do you mean?’

We can all empathize with Nicodemus, whether we are brought near to the Kingdom of God or whether we’ve managed to stay away from it. Every human being physically arrives at his or her birthday, however, included with the physical package also comes our spiritual being. Some cultures ignore the spiritual aspect of our humanness altogether, while some cultures are very aware. Nevertheless, it’s the spiritual being Jesus is referring to when he uses the terminology ‘born again’. The rebirth of our spiritual being could be compared to an awakening. While sleeping we really have no clue what is going on in the world around us. Similarly, when we’re spiritually asleep, we cannot relate very well to God who is Spirit, and we also have trouble hearing Him.

When we wake up to the reality of the kingdom of God, we wake up to an expanded universe.  Have you ever been asleep trying to force yourself to wake up to escape a bad dream? It’s very hard to do, isn’t it? It goes to show that waking up spiritually begs a touch from a special Someone. And this is what the gospel tune “He Touched Me” is about: The song speaks of the hand of Jesus touching and waking up our spiritual being. People who have experienced that touch will tell you that nothing will ever be the same. When Jesus touches you and me, He opens the door to God’s amazing kingdom. Waking up, we’ll be able to see it. Our ears will be unplugged, and to our amazement we will detect God’s voice who has been speaking to us all along. A touch from the Lord is all it takes to wake up.

He touched me; o He touched me, and o the joy that fills my soul. Something happened and now I know: He touched me and made me whole.” (Bill and Gloria Gaither)

2 Corinthians 5:17: “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

A complete makeover!  We all know these TV shows showcasing women who are brought to a beauty salon and fashion boutique for a quick change, head to toe. The most impressive part comes at the end, when the audience is presented with the contrast of the before and after. It is sometimes amazing how different a person can look within a short period of time! However, a physical makeover is really a far cry from what is happening spiritually when a person is made new as Paul describes in his second letter to the Corinthians. Paul is addressing a God-inspired transformation process resulting in a person with a completely new outlook on life. The work of the Holy Spirit has a profound effect on the human psyche, and the difference between the state of mind before and after the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit could not be more dramatic.

It is hard to come to a good understanding of the kind of transformation Paul is talking about here. Nicodemus, a spiritual leader of his time and contemporary of Jesus was exploring the same issue in a personal conversation with Jesus.  We read in the third chapter of John’s gospel how Jesus uses the phenomenon of human birth and compares it to the phenomenon of spiritual birth. When a baby is born everybody understands that a new person who has never existed before is entering this world. This baby is not a mere copycat or an upgraded version of a previous human being; it is a brand-new individual who has never existed before, and is completely unique. The variety of human DNA is known to be endless; no human DNA is alike; as published in the Ensembl database of the European Bioninformatics in July of 2012, the total length of the human genome is over 3 billion base pairs. That number is expected to increase as further personal genomes are sequenced and examined. This gives us a rough idea of a human being’s uniqueness.

While human birth brings forth a brand-new individual, spiritual birth brings forth a brand-new believer. A person, who previously did not believe in the miracle of Christmas and Easter, now believes.  A new believer is born into God’s family, and as such, Jesus explains, this person is born again. All of this ties into Paul’s description of a new life. The newness of believing is just as much a miracle as a new human being entering this world. However, it is only the beginning. The transformation process following spiritual birth is yet another wonder to behold. Both the spiritual birth and the gradual transformation are the work of the Holy Spirit.

We see the Holy Spirit at work all over the Bible, a prominent Bible record being in the first chapter of Genesis. There we read that during the creation process, God’s Spirit moved, brooding over a formless mass to overcome chaos and to create new life. Imagine – the same Holy Spirit hovering over the surface of the deep is now hovering over your heart to overcome confusion and to create a new sense of being, an awakened state of mind, an acute awareness inside of you. This opens up a whole new world around you, a world where God is alive as opposed to a world where God simply is not part of the equation.  The same powerful God who spoke life over the surface of the deep when He created the world now speaks life into your own heart; His Word changed the world in ages past and can change your world today. “For the Word of God is alive and powerful (Hebrews 4:12).

“Dear Heavenly Father, it is a miracle that we are.  Thank You for eternal life.”