New Year, New You?

Jon Opgenorth

Read: John 3:1-3

Unless one is born again . . . (v. 3)

Welcome to the first day of a new year! Where does this day find you? Our newsfeeds echo, “New Year, New You,” offering up resolutions to improve our lives. And yet, we know that turning the page of the calendar does not change who we are.  Most of us do, however, long for something new to take root. Deep down our souls ache for a breakthrough that sets us on a new course.

Jesus brought something new—signs the Pharisees could not explain outside of God, and teaching that contradicted their understanding of God. In John 3, Nicodemus wants conversation about new signs. Jesus offers conversion to a new life. Nicodemus likely assumes he already has a good life. He is a man, a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews. His gender, education, and position give him rights and privileges not enjoyed by most in Israel.

What Jesus said next rocked his world: “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” I hear “born again” with the ingrained familiarity of an altar call from my youth. It’s easy to miss what shocked Nicodemus. He saw himself having to go through the trauma of birth all over again. “Your good life, Nicodemus, is insufficient,” Jesus says. “I offer you something new: the true you.” What Nicodemus saw as a radical and impossible act, Jesus offered as an invitation to something new. How about you?—Jon Opgenorth

Prayer: Help me, O Christ, to live into this year as you invite me.