“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, “You must be born again.”” (John 3:6-7)
Generations grow up with the notion “You can be whatever you want to be.” Parents tell them, teachers encourage them: “Just put your mind to it, work hard.” And at the beginning of a new year many try to be someone different, someone new. As if one could learn to be whatever they want to be. Can you learn to be a Christian?
Some learn the religious lingo and behaviour, but that’s not enough. They might be able to mix in the ‘right crowd,’ but soon it is revealed they do not have the Spirit in themselves, they got only a Christian mask. Just because I put on a football strip that says Messi on its back I will not become a famous football player, I will not have the necessary skills!
Others try with sincere resolve to be a follower of Christ. They practice self-control, they curb their instincts, passions and emotions, refine their speech, do good deeds but their true nature comes through at unexpected moments. So they find it far too hard to be a Christian and give up, or try to cover up and pretend and become hypocrites.
And there are those who were born again by the Spirit of God. They received a new character. True, the old nature is still there, but it is not the dominant one anymore. The aim is that the new character, the Christ who lives in them, will become stronger, and the old self will receive less and less space, by letting Christ, His word, His Spirit guide and refashion their minds, hearts, souls and deeds.
You can not learn this! You can only be born again for this by God’s grace. In this new year when so many try to ‘recreate’ or ‘reinvent’ themselves by New Year’s resolutions, why not allow Christ to shape you? Jesus said that we need to be born again. His word carries the Good News, it is possible to be born again! Through the living and enduring word of God we can be born again! (1 Peter 1:23)