Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”
Why is that old Cinderella story such a favorite? I think it is because it is a story about a young woman in trying circumstances at home, who finally meets her prince charming. He offers her a life of royalty. I think that one of the reasons it appeals to us so much is because it records an amazing transformation.
We love to see the downtrodden and hopeless transformed into a beautiful belle of the ball with a golden future. When Jesus spoke with Nicodemus that night he said, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above” (John 3.3), he was talking about just such an amazing transformation.
This transformation has a Cinderella quality of beauty, and radical change in it, but poor Nicodemus doesn’t get it. All he can see is a literal sense of the natural process of human birth when Jesus mentions being born from above.
To be born ‘from above’ means to be born from the very realm of God, which is not a natural human event. This rebirth is a radical re-shaping of a person’s life in Godly royal terms. It was out of Nicodemus’ realm of understanding. This rebirth would be the beginning of a transformation that would begin a lifetime of living and following Jesus. What he is asking of Nicodemus is a radical shift in human understanding and a trust in him that will change his life forever.
So what does it mean to be born from above? Have you ever felt changed or transformed in your relationship with God? If so — what did it feel like?
When we are born from above we are given the Spirit of Christ –– the Holy Spirit. This is God’s transforming power beginning a work within us. And so we have to be open to change throughout our lives because this is not a once in a lifetime experience. It is a lifelong transforming process that comes to us day-by-day.
Does it upset you when you have to adjust and do things in a different way? Change can sometimes be difficult to accept, but that is exactly what the Holy Spirit leads us into – change. Just as the wind can change direction and we don’t know where it is going, Jesus shows us that being born of the Spirit from above means that we can change as the Spirit of God leads us. It is an exciting experience to be blown by the Holy Spirit of Christ.
The Holy Spirit blows where it chooses which brings us to new challenges, new experiences, and opportunities of sharing God’s love with others. The transitions that the Holy Spirit leads us through in life are challenging and exciting because the Spirit of Christ will blow us in directions we hadn’t even imagined in our wildest dreams. May we be ready and open to the transitions and changes that the Holy Spirit has prepared for us to experience and grow in God’s love to reach out and love others.
- Have you ever felt that you had the opportunity to start over, to begin again?
- When was it? What did it feel like? How was God in that opportunity?
- How are you transitioning into the Christian that God has planned for you to become? Are you changing spiritually as you follow Christ daily?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.