Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, 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 its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Unless you are born into a new life, you cannot see the kingdom of God. This is not even about entering the kingdom. You can't even SEE it!
But why would you want to have a new life just in order to SEE the kingdom of God?
Well, we make a lot of decisions in life in order to 'see' what something is like. People want to drive before they truly see what a life driving is about. Most of life requires us to reach out, adapt or extend ourselves in order to 'see' something that we are currently not able to experience. Sometimes the things we gain are not what we anticipated, they don't match our hopes. Others exceed our expectations, or show us how far away we are from our goals!
To 'see' the kingdom of God will exceed your expectations. Guaranteed.
To see the kingdom dedication is required. You need to be 'born again'.
So, what does that mean? Nicodemus doesn't seem to quite get it in the passage above. It's not about turning back time, or about being physically born. Being born again is a conscious decision to have a new life.
When you are born you are suddenly thrust into; a new environment, new experiences and new relationships. At first you are pretty helpless and have to rely on others to care for you and train you. There's lots to discover and learn. Being born again is about being born into God's family, becoming a child of God.
How? By believing in Jesus. Not just believing he lived, or that he was a holy man, but understanding that he lived and died for you. He lived and died so you don't have to carry the weight of all the wrongs you've committed. He died so that we can become children of God. Once we accept that we have the privilege of seeing the kingdom. The world will seem different, you will see the effect of God in people's lives, and your own life. You will begin to see what life is really all about. That's only SEEING though, what about ENTERING it?
Seeing and entering are different and they require different things.
Think about work experience. Having a taster of a job for a week or two might give you a sneak preview, but you won't know what it's really like to work there unless you take the plunge and jump into the job. Unless you dedicate yourself full-time to the work environment, you won't have a full picture of what it's like. Or you might be able to see a mountain. Admire it, appreciate the scale of it, but you won't know the details, the feel of climbing it, of smelling the fresh air or experience the perspective it gives you, unless you take steps to go up it. The same with the kingdom. Unless you dedicate yourself to change, then you can't know what it's about. You might see the effect the kingdom has on others but you won't know it for yourself. Unless you make a decision and dedicate yourself to get there you're not really going to know what it is like.
In order to enter the kingdom, the text says that you must be, 'born of water and the Spirit'. So, what does that entail? The water can refer to renewal or cleansing - this is the traditional imagery seen in the Old Testament where water was used in order to make things clean. It says in Ezekiel 36:25–27:
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations."
This passage describes that not only does the body that need transformation, but the heart also. God's spirit does the work of transforming our hearts, and the water cleans our bodies.
In order to enter the kingdom both need to be cleansed, we need cleaning up inside and out. The outward appearance that people see needs to be scrubbed up. This involves our actions and words. Also, the interior, the heart needs to be scrubbed up as God's nature is infused into us by the Spirit. Both are necessary for entry into the kingdom. It's no good just doing the outward acts of obedience if you still have a heart of stone. God sees both and both need to be regenerated before we can have access to the kingdom of God. We need a heart transplant!
So in order to SEE the kingdom, you need to choose to have a new life, to become vulnerable and to re-learn some things, your life will be based on some different standards and you'll see some amazing things. In order to ENTER the kingdom, you need to be washed clean. Your sin wiped away, your experiences cleaned up and your heart transformed. Are you ready for that kind of renewal?
Once the body and heart are renewed, your life will be different!
Are you ready for that?