5-27-15 - Born Yesterday

The expression, “born yesterday” suggests naivete, even ignorance (as in the Judy Holliday 1950 film classic, remade in 1993 with Melanie Griffith.) But the phrase comes to mind as I read Jesus' response to Nicodemus: 'I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’

Nicodemus chooses to take that literally - 'How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?' But he's got a a point. What does Jesus mean by "born from above?"

That phrase can also be translated “born again,” giving rise to insistence by some Christian groups that only those who are “born again” are real Christians – and they know who’s who. Needless to say, this has occasioned much grief and confusion over the centuries, causing some to doubt their salvation and others to court self-righteousness because they have met their own criteria.

Most agree we are “born again” or “born from above” in the waters of baptism. Some say we are only born again when we are baptized in the Spirit, proved by the ability to speak in tongues. Some say we were born again on Good Friday, when Jesus paid the price for humanity’s sin and made possible reconciliation with God.

Any and all of these can be true. Maybe “born from above” isn’t a moment but a series of birthings. Maybe we are ever being born from above as we allow the Spirit of God to transform us more and more into the likeness of Christ.

Being born is not something we can make happen. It happens to us. We cannot birth ourselves, or get ourselves born, or will ourselves born, any more than a baby in the womb can arrange its own birth. We find ourselves born anew "from above," sometimes with a dramatic before-and-after, and sometimes gradually throughout our lives. It is God's action, God's love that births us anew, not our own.

What if we chose to live as those who are still being born, knowing we’re evolving as people of the New Covenant. We wouldn’t expect ourselves to be further along in faith than we are, any more than we expect a baby just out of the womb to walk and talk and teach philosophy.

I propose we claim "born yesterday," to remind ourselves we have been born anew, and that the birthing's ongoing. As Paul wrote, "We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." (Romans 8:22) We are part of the new creation God is bringing into wholeness of being.

So let's celebrate being "born yesterday." Whenever we are confronted with all that we are not yet able to do or be, we can remind ourselves, “Hey, I was just born yesterday.”

It’s true every morning.

No comments:

Post a Comment