Born Again

LeRoy Koopman

READ : John 3:3-10

When President Jimmy Carter talked about being “born again,” reporters were mystified. One could expect that kind of talk from snake handlers and other religious nuts, but certainly not from the president of the United States.

President Carter, of course, was not reflecting the beliefs of some extremist branch of Christianity. He was quoting the founder. “No one can see the kingdom of God,” said Jesus, “without being born from above” (v. 3).

Becoming a Christian does not happen by being born into a Christian family. Birth in the flesh is indeed a miracle of God, but it is not the miracle Jesus was talking about. To be born anew is to be born “from above” (v. 3) and “of the Spirit” (v. 5). It is the product of a supernatural act, not of a natural union.

To be born anew is also to be born “of water” (v. 5). Water cleanses, taking away the pollutants, the causes of disease and death. Of this divine cleansing the water of baptism is an apt and meaningful symbol.

At the heart of it, of course, being born from above is a mystery. It is like the wind (v. 8), experienced by some people as a gentle healing breeze, by others as a hot blast of judgment, and by still others as a hurricane of emotion. Like the wind, it can be better experienced than explained.


Father, if we, like Nicodemus, are religious but still empty, create in us the miracle of spiritual birth. Amen.