BY BRIAN RIDDLE
Shortly after becoming a Christian over 6 years ago, I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine. We were talking about some of the stuff I had been working through spiritually and he asked me a question that for some reason has always resonated with me. He sought clarification, “…so you’re like, one of those born again Christians?” he said. Being only a month into my new found faith in Christ, I answered, “…uhhh…I don’t know man. I just want to live for Jesus now, mostly…”. Our short conversation spurred me to go and do some research and read some scriptures which revealed to me that, in fact, I had become one of those born again Christians. Cool!
Fast forward to today. Our staff is preparing for our Easter celebration at Redeemer Church and I’ve been tasked with writing this blog on the Resurrection of Christ, accordingly. Being born again has become a powerful term in my mind since then because of its connection to Jesus first rising from the dead. Unlike six years ago, when I think of what God did in my heart to cause me to be born again, I think of Jesus. I think of the Kingdom of God, New Creation, of freedom, hope, joy and love. When I consider that I have been born again I think of this “resurrection life” that we Christians have been called into. Essentially, my spirit which was dead in its sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2) has been resurrected. And this by the same power that raised Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1:20)! These are some things God has been showing me as we prepare for Easter this Sunday. The implications of being born again are…cosmic.
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was him kicking in the door to the New Creation. It was the foundation laid for what he would continue to build through the spreading of his gospel on earth. The resurrection assures us that, while at the cross, that old debt that humanity had been charged with was dealt with, our account is not at zero. The resurrection shows us that the future has been paid for in full as well. The account overflows with life because the Fount is eternal. The resurrection proves that death no longer reigns and that a new creation has begun. In God’s Kingdom, New Creation, where Christ reigns, life, not death, is the guiding characteristic. This is why we read of the questioning of death in scripture, “Where o death is your sting?” What’s more is that Jesus has invited us to be apart of this transformation on earth, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is not just an empty prayer after all. His kingdom will come and conquer all others. But, while earthly kingdoms rely on mass destruction to win wars, Christ’s Kingdom advances by mass resurrection, by making people new, born again, resurrected. He showed us the way of new life by laying down his own and then led the way into resurrection life, into new creation. We follow this model as Christians, as meek, peaceful, joyful soldiers for the Kingdom. N.T. Wright breaks it down:
“A great door has been swung open in the cosmos which can never agin be shut…We are all invited—summoned, actually—to discover, through following Jesus, that this new world indeed is a place of justice, spirituality, relationship, and beauty, and that we are not only to enjoy it as such but to work at bringing to birth on earth as in heaven”. (emphasis mine)
This means that through the resurrection, you have new life right now in Jesus by the new heart for him he’s given you. And one day, Paul says in Colossians 3:1-4, all of God’s people will be made fully like him in our physical, resurrected bodies when we “appear with him in glory”. This will be the completion of what the resurrection began around 2000 years ago. “This new life, which the Christian possesses secretly, invisible to the world, will burst forth into full bodily reality and visibility” Someone close my mouth. Mind blown.
I’m not sure about you but, man, when I begin to grasp the big picture of what God is doing in redemptive history like this, it moves my soul to want to better reflect Christ with every waking breath. We do this by bringing heavenly characteristics to our communities. This is what Paul stresses when he speaks of the fruits of the Spirit! (Galatians 5). Never forget the personal forgiveness and righteousness that you gained through becoming a “born again” Christian, but, my prayer is that we press onward, increasingly taking ownership of the newness God has brought us into by seeing the massive implications of the resurrection. I hope you’ll join us this Sunday at Redeemer Church where we will gather to do just this as we worship our resurrected King!