Birth and Rebirth

Birth and rebirth are both essential to start life and from both we don’t exactly know when they start and how it will go. We do know something is coming. A birth is preceded with a pregnancy, also a rebirth. And in both cases there has been a desire and a fertile environment.

John writes that a human who desires a child, gets a child of flesh and blood, but when God desires a child He will get a spiritual child, because He himself is spirit (John 1:12,13).

God longs for children, we are the fertile or not-so-fertile soil. Jesus compares Himself with a sower. Have you ever seen a farmer sow? That isn’t making a small hole and putting one seed in it, but ploughing a field and showering it with handfuls of seed. Season after season, with the abundance that is characteristic for God. So you won’t have to be afraid you will miss out on a one time opportunity. God longs for children, He is God, on his side He will do everything needed to get children.

We are the receiving side. We are the ones that are confronted time and agien with the seed and in principal we can choose what to do with it. In Matthew 13 is a story about sowing and there you can read there can be quite a lot of circumstances that prevent the seed to be fruitful. But God is patience, he won’t give up easily. Just like people with a child wish, He will keep on trying to have children.

And then, at a given time, you see someone starts asking questions, starts seeking and finds Jesus. This can take long, it can go fast. It can be an intense process or an almost unnoticed one. Gods Spirit goes His own way with every individual. And then comes the moment you will have to decide: I will take a serious next step with God” or “this is it, I don’t want to take it any further”.

At this point I have a huge theological problem. By telling you my own story I will show you what I mean.

I was raised in a Christian family and I have always believed in God.

When I was around seven I found out Santa Claus didn’t exist and that they had fooled me. I wondered if God did exist and came to the conclusion that every week 1000 people attending church just to fool me was a bit over the top, so God was real.

When I was about nine we went to church on our holiday address. That Sunday there was the Lords supper and in this church children were allowed to join in. That was something I wanted for a long time. When in our own church the grown ups were at the tables for the Lords supper, I always took a small candy myself. But now I could join for real! My mother told me this was a very special moment and that I had made a choice for Jesus now.

All the years after that I was a faithful girl, also in my adolescence even though my lifestyle wasn’t always in conformity with the teachings. I held on to God and He held on to me.

I greatly valued Gods blessing on my marriage and was baptised fully convinced when I was 27, together with my husband.

A few years later I encountered some problems; being married eight years, three small children, not everything went as smooth as it once did. One night I was reading in a booklet about Operation Mobilisation and one way or the other God interfered with my not-so-positive thoughts with the bible verse; “Who doesn’t love his brothers, doesn’t love God”. For my ‘brothers’ and the rest of the world for that matter, I couldn’t care less, but I didn’t want to loose God!

In that moment I got a choice; I could continue the way it was and then it would stay the way it was of I could choose for God. I choose for God. Immediately I experienced a love I had never felt before. It filled me up and there was more than I could contain. My husband was asleep on the couch. I woke him up to tell him what had happened. He opened his eyes, looked at me and said; “did you see the light or so, you are totally glowing”.

My question is; when did I come to faith and when was I born again? Are those two separate moments or is it one? I felt like born again at the last experience, but I have always been a believer and I have always known I was a child of God. What do I have to make of it?

Jesus says you can only see or enter the kingdom of God when you are born again as a spiritual human (John 3:3-9). But He also says you can’t show where it is, because the kingdom of God is in you or your midst (Luke 17:21). The kingdom is also more of a situation than a place. It is a matter of righteousness, peace and joy (Romans 14:17), not of a country, buildings, gates, streets or clouds.

How important is it to know that you have come to faith and or that you are born again? In Pentecostal circles people sometimes put great emphasis on the baptism with the Holy Spirit: then you are a true Christian. On the other side of the spectrum, in orthodox reformed churches people believe you are only saved when you are born again. Both denominations put great emphasis on the experience that goes with it.

I think it is important that as many as possible people will become a part of the Body of Christ, not to form an elite squad of real, born again, Spirit filled Christians. Everybody who believes in Jesus may be with God, now and in eternity (John 3:16). Those He has given power to become children of God. (John 1:12). Let’s accept that as children and be glad with it. Let’s welcome everybody who is born in our midsts as a child of God, with or without a wonderful experience, being really or not so sure of their faith.

Let’s stop judging other peoples faith.

“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.” (Romans 14:4)

God is the only one who can judge someone’s faith and I think He has more mercy for people than we have.

I have had a beautiful experience that changed me. Does this make me a better Christian? I didn’t think so …, but it helped me a lot. Is it proof of my salvation? Absolutely not! Fortunately that doesn’t depend on my feelings but on Gods promise. Beautiful experiences are valuable, but not a criterion.

Believing as a child, also in the other (not so) believer.