Ask A Pastor
By Rev Syd Osenbaugh
The Healing Place (Nashville Assembly of God)
My first introduction to a relationship with the Lord happened during the ‘Jesus People’ movement in the 70s. It was in the beach communities of Southern California that many teens and young adults were discovering an expression of ‘religion’ that fit into their laid back, casually dressed, contemporary music lifestyle. We often sat cross-legged on the floor in our jeans and t-shirts singing songs that sounded less like hymns and more like rock and roll. It was a time of discovering who we were, but the more important lessons being learned were about how to be like Jesus.
There was a cartoonish character that made his way into some of the literature and posters of that day. His name was ‘Ben Born Again’. He dressed like we did, wore a huge cross around his neck, and carried a gigantic Bible under one arm. The intent was not to mock anyone, but rather to connect an experience with the timeless Savior to a cultural group locked in the modern world. And for so many of us, it worked!
The reality of what was happening at those concerts and Bible studies was much greater than a caricature might depict, though. The depth of Scripture was coming alive in our hearts and minds. We were learning the truth of what Jesus had told to Nicodemus in John 3:3 – “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
John records that Nicodemus was puzzled by Jesus’ words. He was trying to grasp it in earthly terms of re-entering the womb when our Lord was explaining to him a spiritual encounter. Simply put, the first experience of birth is when an individual makes their debut on planet earth. To be ‘born of the flesh’ is the rite of passage of every human being. Being born again is the result of deciding to follow Jesus as Master of one’s life.
A few verses later in the third chapter of John is quite possibly the most well known Scripture of all time. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Man, by virtue of sin, was separated from God. The Father, in His great love for the people He had created, made a way for that separation to be breached. It was at the cost of His own Son whom He gave as a ransom for our sinful selves. To confess one’s sins, seek the forgiveness that comes only from Jesus’ sacrifice, and choose to surrender to His leadership for the remainder of life is all summed up in the experience of being born again. It is a transformation, a new existence. In fact, the apostle Paul points out in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that anyone who is in Christ has become a new creation.
Born again – alive, fresh, and new in relationship with the King of Kings – what an amazing truth!