Affirmation that, suddenly or gradually, individuals are transformed (“reborn”) into believers
I have my black belt in the martial arts. I have also earned my undergrad at the University of Toronto. Many others have followed similar paths. As pretty much everyone will attest to, you don’t become a black belt or a university graduate just by waking up one morning. The journey to accomplishing these goals are long and arduous. They require commitment and hard work. Knowledge is required in order to obtain these goals.
Christians feel a similar sense of growth in their acceptance of Jesus as Christ. For most, it is a journey of faith that requires knowledge. Individuals make an informed decision to commit their lives to Jesus and for some, this is a long process, similar to completing a series of courses. For others, it is almost instantaneous. Regardless of the length of time required or the amount of work dedicated to this transformation, there is a sense of rebirth that occurs in this conversion.
I hadn’t thought about reconsidering my relationship with God until a casual conversation with a good friend of mine at a wedding a few years back. My rebirth occurred over a number of discussions with this friend. I had always believed in God, but my walk with Christ had been neglected for quite a long time. I had many questions to ask before I could get back on track with God. I knew that I had lived a life outside of Christ for quite some time and I yearned to rebuild that relationship but I didn’t know if God would accept me. My learning consisted of understanding what God expected from me and how he would forgive me for my sins. Although I knew that God was forgiving, I was skeptical about how forgiving he could be. With the help of a few close friends and family, I was comforted in the love of the Lord and his unconditional acceptance of me into his kingdom.
My walk was both sudden and gradual. I knew immediately that I wanted Jesus in my life and that I believed in him. But it was a gradual process in bringing me closer to him. This is a process that never ends… Every day I still find myself growing closer and closer to God. For me, at least, this is not simply a one time event that leads to a conversion that never has to be revisited again. I find myself constantly yearning for a higher understanding of my faith and for the God that I live for.
The rebirth that Christians experience is an inner event. It happens within the individual. Nobody can make you reborn. Well… nobody except God. But even then, it is left up to the individual believer to accept Jesus as our personal saviour. Like a parent that wants to love their child, it is only when the child freely accepts that love that the love can be shared between the parent and the child.
After one’s private affirmation of faith, a public declaration normally follows. This public declaration is known as baptism. In baptism, water is used as a a sign of a believer’s cleansing from sin. This symbolic event can take many forms including a mere sprinkling of water in a church setting to complete dunking of the participant in a river or some other body of water. This public affirmation of faith is important as it announces one’s wish to participate as a Christian in the church community.
Consider Jesus’ teaching to Nicodemus in John 3:1-5:
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.”
“How can anyone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.(John 3:1-5, TNIV)
It is important for each of us to recognize this yearning to live our lives in direct relationship with God and to heed this call to become born in God’s presence. Don’t hesitate. If you want to know God better and to live life in his presence, take the time today to take this walk of commitment in faith with God. It might take seconds to feel comfortable in God’s presence, or it may take years to grasp the many difficult questions that come from knowing Christ in your life. Either way, embrace the commitment to get to know God better and to learn what life spent in Christ is all about.
Next time, we’ll discuss a topic that is especially exciting for me. We’ll discuss Jesus’ death and resurrection as historical facts.
Until that time, I encourage you to continue your walk with God.