By Dianne Neal Matthews
I stamped the snow off my feet and walked into the church for the memorial service. Although I'd never met my friend's father, I knew that he had become a Christian during his final months on earth. As I sat in the quiet sanctuary, the beautiful arrangement on the altar caught my attention—brilliant red roses scattered among snow white flowers. How appropriate, I thought. Like roses blooming in winter, this elderly man's faith had blossomed in the winter of his life.
Nicodemus may have been an old man when he visited Jesus to learn more about him and his teachings (John 3:1-12). Although Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish council, he believed that Jesus had been sent from God. "Rabbi," he began, "we know that God has sent you as a teacher. No one can perform the miracles you perform unless God is with him." Jesus wanted Nicodemus to understand that he was much more than a teacher. He immediately challenged Nicodemus with the declaration that no one can see God's kingdom without being born again, or born from above.
The well-educated Jewish leader struggled to make sense of Jesus' words. "How can anyone be born when he's an old man?" he asked. "He can't go back inside his mother a second time to be born, can he?" Jesus patiently explained that he wasn't talking about a physical birth, but a spiritual rebirth. The conversation introduced a revolutionary concept: although the Jews were God's chosen people, they would not enter God's Kingdom on the basis of their ethnicity, their spiritual heritage, or their attempts to live a "good" life. Each individual could only become a part of God's family by being spiritually reborn—something accomplished not through human effort but through the power of the Holy Spirit and God's Word.
When we place our faith in Christ and his sacrificial death on our behalf, God re-creates us. We aren't just a reconfigured model of our former self, but a brand-new person. We enter into the New Covenant and God begins a new work of creation in us. He gives us a new heart, a new self, and a new song. We're called to have new attitudes and a new lifestyle. That means each one of us starts our spiritual journey as a baby, having to "grow into" our new life with its transformed desires, attitudes, goals, and behaviors.
Just as in the physical realm, we all mature at different rates. But as long as we nurture our relationship with God through prayer, Bible study, obedience to his commands, and fellowship with other believers, we will be making progress. Regardless of our chronological age, whether eight years old or eighty, all of us who have been reborn are trying to grow up to be just like our Father.
Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (GW)
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This Devotion is adapted from Drawing Closer to God: 365 Daily Meditations on Questions from Scripture with permission. (Baker Books) © 2010 Dianne Neal Matthews
Dianne Neal Matthews is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books. Her newest release is Designed for Devotion: A 365-Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation (Baker Books). Visit her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
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