5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Birth must be quite an experience. What must that be like? We leave the only reality we have ever known, a warm and cozy space about the size of a volley ball and emerge into a vast world completely outside of our capacity to understand. We are born into a reality for which we have absolutely no point of reference. We enter a world in which we are completely dependent and within which we must now learn to grow and mature. But this is not a learning defined simply in terms of the accumulation of new and additional data. This is a qualitatively new way of seeing and experiencing reality.
Jesus describes our entrance into God’s Kingdom in these precise terms. What is it like to enter the Kingdom of God? First, we must leave behind the only reality we’ve ever experienced. By the Spirit we emerge into a bigger, deeper reality – one for which we have no reference point. Entrance into the Kingdom is best described in terms of birth.
Faith in Christ is so much more than mental ascent to doctrine. Becoming a disciple of Jesus is far more than a commitment to identifying and implementing Biblical principles. Christianity isn’t simply our identification with a group or organization, nor is it a new set of ideas, even good, right, and true religious ideas. Saving faith is in fact an entirely different way of perceiving reality. It is an awakening from darkness to light, emerging into a new reality where none of the old rules apply and everything is somehow strangely different and upside down.
Like the wind, this new life surprises us and is difficult to tame or predict. When asked to explain we find ourselves stretching for a vocabulary that doesn’t quite exist yet. All we are able to describe is that the trees are blowing. The wind itself is beyond description for we are so new to this larger, deeper reality called the Kingdom. We are born. Again.
God has provided a way through Jesus for us to enter a new reality called the Kingdom of Heaven. Many long to be free – free from addictions, free from destructive behavior patterns, free from demonic oppression, free from anything in our life that hinders us from becoming all Jesus created and died for us to be. Our first step to freedom is the new birth. This is not something we add on to our old life as an accessory. Being born radically alters our perception and definition of all we have every known to be true and real. You cannot be born and remain within the cozy reality you’ve occupied before. So the first thing God frees us from is all we have ever thought to be true and all the ways we have thought about truth.