Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Music Man & Born Again

Born again.

The phrase brings all kinds of images to mind. I'm guessing both Christians and non-Christians alike have strong reactions to the phrase.

Some non-Christians (or non-church folk) may react violently against the words. Possibly because they have come in contact with people who wore the "born again" label with great pride, but lived in a way that was anything but Christlike.

Some followers of Christ cling to the phrase because it describes an awakening or breakthrough in their life. A promise of what can be for everyone. Many can only compare event to becoming a brand new person.

Where does "born again" come from?

Like many of the great truths in life, there's a story behind it. This story occurs in the third chapter of the Gospel of John.

A man comes to see Jesus. The man's name is Nicodemus. Nicodemus, which means "conqueror of the people", is a member of the Pharisees, a religious and political party in New Testament times.

According to commentators, the Pharisees were known for "insisting that the law of God be observed as the scribes interpreted it". They were also known for "their special commitment to keeping the laws of tithing and ritual purity".

Sounds like a real fun group, right? They've developed a reputation as being "holier than thou".

So this "conqueror of the people" comes to see Jesus...at night. He appears to be inquiring about what makes Jesus tick.

Jesus' response is: "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."

Nicodemus finds that phrase as strange as many of us do. "How can I be born when I am old?"

Good question. Ever wonder how your life can be knew when you're half-way through it?

Ever wonder how you can be reborn when you're closer to death than birth?

Ever long for life to be radically different?

Is this even possible?

Is it too late?

Jesus says we can't "see the kingdom" without it. The Kingdom, as I understand it, is anywhere that God is in charge; anywhere life is being lived as He intended it to be lived. The places where the Spirit is at work are places where the Kingdom is breaking in.

Think about it. Our poets, artists, and theologians have known there must be something more "out there".

Reminds me of the musical, "The Music Man". In one scene, after a long battle between the upstanding Marian the Librarian, and the scamming traveling salesman "Professor" Harold Hill, they fall in love. They sing that there were "birds" and "love all around". But "I never heard them at all...till there was you."

I recently read an author who mentioned we don't need to go somewhere we've never been before in order to see things new things. We only need new eyes.

Is it possible that new possibilities are right in front of our eyes? That a new song is playing all around our ears?

If there is something in you that wonders about all of this, my hope is that you pursue it with all your being until you find what (or Who) it is you are looking for.

Grace & peace

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