The new birth is a wonderful thing - always better as an experience than as a notion or a theology. Yet it is the lived theology of being born again that is the difference between living in our kingdom and His.
I live to draw people into the fullness of life that is ours in Jesus. So do My wife and daughter. We aim to empower every person to not just have some life – but life without limit – the kind of life Jesus came to multiply by His Spirit in us.
A life in God is not only richer and more divine than any version of the knowledge of good and evil, but it alerts us to the fact that a life in the territory, in the streets and suburbs of the knowledge of good and evil is not a life in God - only approximations and quite often an illusion.
YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN
Jesus did not say that people would be excluded from eternal life if they were not born again. He said they could not see or enter the Kingdom of God. He implied they would contain themselves in a prison of religion – of their own making - that they assumed was the Kingdom of God. There they would minister in limited potential, yet not competent to minister the Kingdom of God in new covenant spirit and life.
‘He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’ 2 Cor 3.6 NIV.
Being born again can be described as many things - like passing from the first half of life to the second, entering our new covenant union with God and - as was the case with Paul - realising that he had passed out of the restaurant where one eats dung to the state of being where one eats Christ.
Of course many of us can convince ourselves that we are eating Christ when what we are actually doing is eating the religion we have made out of Him. Being born again can mean that we have benefited from the revelation that we have been eating junk food all our lives and are ready to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man. But being born again is not changing from one morality to another – which is an extended version of the knowledge of good and evil.
‘Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you’ John 6.53 NIV.
OUT OF THE MOUTHS
A fourteen year old girl made an insightful comment on Radio National this morning. She observed that much of what is taught in schools is not education. It's the curriculum. Not so different to that which is offered as life when all it is, is religion. This kind of remark can offend a certain kind of Believer. What such Believers should do is get over their offence and get a life.
I found this quote from Goethe today, "As long as you do not have the experience of this dying and becoming, you are only a troubled guest on this dark earth."
In Jesus we are always becoming. If we are not becoming we are not in Him but in something else, and dying. There are great opportunities for spiritual growth in the Second Half of life. “In the second half of life, people have less power to infatuate you. But they also have much less power to control you or hurt you.” ― Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.
There are times when I have been amazed at what people felt needed to be stated about themselves as an enhancement to their credibility as ministers of the gospel – like a list of qualities and achievements that are external to their being and mostly irrelevant to the Kingdom. God knew the real Paul when he was binding people as Saul. God knows you as you and cherishes you entirely for yourself without accoutrements. Jesus is the one who loves you as you. In His life we are able to access our genuine identity as sons and daughters of God. This was behind Paul’s statement, ‘I am what I am.’ He was secure in his identity as a man in Christ.
Paul flourished in being himself because he had entered the I AM of God.
VALUES WHAT WAS VALUABLE
Paul had reason to be confident in his intellectual ability and theological knowledge. He was not the kind of person who lived in a religious coma and could easily penetrate humbug. Paul was a sharp thinker and also responsive to the promptings of Holy Spirit. He also had things to be ashamed of – very ashamed. Yet He lived not from His plusses or his minuses. He lived from himself in Christ.
Since Christ really was His life – his identity - Paul was who he was in spirit and in truth. He was growing everyday into the Paul that the Son of God had foreseen before the world was. Paul wrote, ‘But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favour on me--and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace’ Cor 15.10 NIV.