Links Daily Devotional

The Ultimate Apprenticeship: Truly Born Again

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (NASB)

I must make a little bit of a confession to you today: I am a golf snob. It might not be exactly what you are thinking. Yes, I prefer to play courses that are in good shape and to hit off real grass rather than a mat at the driving range, but I am actually talking about a terminology snob. For some reason, it really bothers me when people use golf terms inappropriately.

We must start over and become an entirely new person in order that we, as God’s children, may see what he is up to and partner with him.If you didn’t know there is a correct way to speak the language of golf, then you are about to get your first lesson from this (self-proclaimed) golf linguist about the first and greatest commandment in speaking golf.

Thou shalt not use the word golf as a verb. It is the name of the sport we play, just like tennis or baseball. Therefore, one shalt not say, “Do you golf?”, “What a beautiful day to golf!”, or “How did you golf, today?” Just insert the word tennis or baseball for golf, and you will quickly see what I mean. I would love to share more of these with you, but then you would probably not purchase my “Learn to Speak Golf in 30 Days” audio series through Rosetta Stone for all your family this Christmas.

A phrase that I have noticed irks a lot more people in today’s culture than the misuse of golf is how Protestants sometimes use the phrase born again. These observers are often frustrated by the self-righteous connotations of the claim and the hypocritical tendencies that often come with it. That can bother me too—but like with golf, I get annoyed when the wording is not used properly.

Born again is often used as an adjective to describe one’s faith or status (“they’re born again Christians”). Instead, it should be used as a verb to describe the process we participate in with Jesus as he transforms our hearts and minds. Though the Holy Spirit does all the real work for us, we must be engaged in the process of rebirth. (This is kind of like the role my wife played when we gave birth to our two sons; though she did the hard work, I had a part to play).

To be born again, as the words suggest, means that we must start over and become an entirely new person in order that we, as God’s children, may see what he is up to and partner with him. It is an entirely new path for our life. We are not merely adding faith in Jesus to our existing lives so we can continue in the same direction but secure a place in heaven when we die. Rather, Jesus wants to lead us into a process of renewal and completion. The only way to do that is by getting rid of our old selves and our old direction. Many of you have never truly repented and made a U-turn. You’ve asked our gracious God to be your Savior for your sins, but have you ever truly tried to make him Lord of your life as Scripture teaches? The apostle Paul wrote, “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy” (Ephesians 4:21-24, NLT).

As Jesus told his young apprentices in John 13:15, “I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” The key to becoming more like Jesus is in submitted apprenticeship to him. He wants us to give up our lives to follow him and imitate him, make him Lord and Teacher—just as he taught his disciples to do and to multiply to the whole world.

Josh Nelson
October 25, 2016
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