Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. John 3:6 NLT
What did Jesus mean when He talked about flesh and spirit with respect to the new birth?
To be born physically, the union of a man and a woman are necessary. Coming from them, I resemble them. I have their DNA in my bones. I have my grandmother’s nose, my aunt’s musical ability, my father’s gentle spirit, my mother’s gift of compassion, and a combination of their gestures and facial movements. That’s why Jesus said, ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh.’
To be born spiritually, there is also a birth by a parent. A new Father calls me His child. He touches my dead spirit and brings it to life. I’m given a new nature, His nature. I’m given undeserved righteousness, His righteousness. Begotten of God, I become like the One who gave me a spiritual birth. That’s why Jesus said, ‘That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.’
But, am I more like my earthly parents or my Heavenly Father? If I’ve been born again, my second birth is to trump the first. The second birth is to re-define my whole identity. It is meant to re-shape whatever has been disfigured by formation inside my human family. My perfect Father intends to re-parent me. He’s eager to fix what was broken and mature what was stunted. He blesses the righteous seeds of my parents while challenging the sinful legacies. That creates friction ~ both in me and in my family. Yet, this is what spiritual growth involves.
I can pray the sinner’s prayer, call myself a child of God, but never engage in a Father/daughter relationship. I do not experience His endearing ways. From lack of intimacy, I don’t become like the One who gave me spiritual life. I cling to the patterns, habits, and beliefs of my earthly family. My history normalized their dysfunction and it feels uncomfortable to step out of line. My family might not like it if I honor Jesus before them. I will potentially lose favor.
Yet, this is the call. I am to leave father and mother to follow God. ‘The family way of doing things’ is to no longer bind me if ‘the family way’ is out of step with the kingdom.
I don’t like not fitting in. I am uncomfortable with criticism, especially from family. Your likeness is what I seek so give me grace for whatever friction my follow. Amen