… Nicodemus … came to Jesus … said to him, “How can a person once grown old be born again?” … Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit.”
Jn 3:1, 2, 3, 4, 5-6
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If you were going to read but one Gospel passage as a guide to a healthy and happy life, it might be useful to read the exchange between Nicodemus, “a ruler of the Jews, and Jesus. (Jn 3:1-21)
Why do I say this?
Central to believing as a Christian, the Christian experience – living life as a Christian is this: a Christian lives a renewed life, a new life – life in Christ, the fulfillment of what it is to be fully human.
The point of Christian life is not to gain life in another world – exclusive of daily existence, but rather to live fully in this human and earthly existence in each day. Is this not why God comes to us as our Brother?
We are not “playing the game” for the hereafter, but for now – so that we might live as Christ in love, unbounded by the limits of this world – to live in the Spirit today, on earth – here and now.
In short, we surmount this world and the mundane, we die to our old ways so to live today, now, in the grace of Christ while on earth.
Renewal. This is the point. A transformation of one’s old self, in favor of self in Christ – life as a Christian.
Make no mistake, this renewal is not secured by ritual, by formality, by rote recitation, exterior acts. Nor does it stop at an emotional “rush” that would have us feel an “inner liberation.”
Rather, in Christ there is self-transcendence, a transcendence of the norms, attitudes, proscriptions of one’s culture.
Freedom, you see, to the Christian is this: he or she attains a radical liberty through life in the Spirit and this, always and everywhere, makes the Christian and the Church the inevitable target of the state unless religious belief is valued and protected by civil authorities.
In Christian belief, it is the human community, not the state or the bureaucracy, which attends to the good of all people; for, only by love does a man or woman and a community care for the full development of all others, all of Creation.
Today, of course, in our land we have a very vocal minority of “statists” who believe otherwise and for them: religion and believers, and Christ indeed is unnecessary or the enemy – something to be excluded, exiled, bound by the dictates of godless thinking.
Socialism and communism are the natural adversaries of Christian existence for they see themselves, their ideology – not God, as that which articulates and realizes the oneness of all – all humans, all creation.
Presently, some advance the state over God despite the evidence that the state without God divides and fragments the whole – the person and the community. Are Baltimore and “the War on Poverty” not sufficient evidence that this is so?
“If I tell you about earthy things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?”
Are you thinking like Nicodemus? Living like Nicodemus? Acting like Nicodemus?
Thank you for your support and for sharing faith with others. God bless.