Dr. Andy Pate
The Orange Leader
Once born is labor enough. Twice, or thrice? Harder.
When a man named Nicodemus asked Jesus how it were possible to be “born again,” Nicodemus was confessing his inability to understand as well as his inability to confront a basic trait of our human condition: we run from the pain of personal change.
Yet, at times we must. We must change and endure the pain, that is, if we want our lives to be better.
Jesus saw this being “born again” as the often unwanted, but necessary process we must undergo if we are to rid ourselves of our self-destructive ways. If we are unwilling to be be born again by the Holy Spirit - striving as it always does to enhance each of our precious hours - those habits will continue to propel us headlong to you know where.
Often in the New Testament accounts, the first step taken by those whose lives were changed for the better is their confrontation with the reality that they had to change or suffer the consequences. And these transforming steps are described therein as having taken place in a variety of ways.
The Prodigal Son, for example, had to reach rock bottom to face up to the folly of his waywardness. A condemned adulteress saw her life made new through a meeting with Jesus that was forced upon them both. Thanks to caring friends, a paralyzed man was placed before the Great Physician and freed from his sinful bondage by a few simple, but firmly stated words of forgiveness. And, as poignantly described in the Crucifixion story, the repentant one of the two thieves hanging alongside Jesus. was reborn, when, at the very last-minute, a door to Paradise was opened for him by the Master himself.
It’s never too late, it’s always possible, for the young and the old, regardless of sex, financial condition or social status, to be born of the Spirit. What profound insight and hope are offered by our New Testament witness.
I have personally seen this miraculous spiritual rebirth occur many times. Members of my immediate family have experienced it. And so have I. Yet we too were human. Before our life-changing events, we ran from them. We tried so very hard to persist a while longer in the pleasures of our life-denying habits. For we wanted desperately to avoid the pain and discomfort that always come with meaningful transformation.