How does a person become a Christian? Is it like trying-out for a sports team or joining a club at school? Are you simply born into a Christian family? Does Christianity get inherited like DNA?
In the story we just read, we meet a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Pharisees were Jewish religious leaders in the 1st century. Now, Jesus often had conflict with the Pharisees, but He was a captivating teacher and rumours were spreading that miraculous powers were at work in Him, so Nicodemus is intrigued.
Nicodemus is a religious man, but his soul still thirsts for full life.
“He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘We know you are a teacher who has come from God…’ (vs. 2).
And Jesus tells him,
“You must be born again” (vs. 3).
Nicodemus misses the metaphor. “How can a man be born when he is old?” (vs.4)
Jesus quickly clears up the misunderstanding. He is using the image of being born again to describe a very real experience that the Holy Spirit works in our lives.
We are born again (which is another way of saying we become a Christian) when we turn from our sin and trust in Christ, which is evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in our lives.
Becoming a Christian is not a small tweak or adjustment to our lives. According to Jesus, being His disciple involves something far more radical than a superficial make-over of our attitude. Following Him is more like stepping into a whole new way of life.