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second birth day ramble

Bloged in apprenticeship, life by rod Monday August 16, 2004

I had a birthday of sorts on Friday. Yes, Friday the 13th. Well not really a birthday. My birthday of sorts would have been August 3. Of course that was my second birth day, (not my second birthday). So maybe Friday was the anniversary of my Christening day. That which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of spirit is spirit. I was born of the flesh on February 10, 1964 and I was born of the Spirit on August 3, 1972. Maybe I should call it Spirit day and wear my colors. Well, all this ramble has to do with verbiage. Way up there in sentence two, I was getting ready to say I’ve been a believer for 32 years. But that’s not right – I’ve been a believer since I was old enough to choose. So maybe I should say I’ve been a committer for 32 years. But that’s not really right either, there have been times since 1972 when I wasn’t all that committed. Follower? Sometimes I lost sight of the leader. So all this other ramble has to do with the fact that our verbiage doesn’t necessarily reflect our theology. Before I could read I was told that Jesus was God’s Son and that he died for all the wrong stuff I’d done and would do so that I wouldn’t have to, and that he rose from the dead. I believed it. So I was already a believer. What happened that night? What happened a couple of Sundays later when I got dunked in the pond? I know what I believe, but I wonder if the words I’ve inherited to talk about it really describe it. Those words are certainly biblical. I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day.
As we search for words and phrases that sound less Christianese and yet describe accurately and perhaps more understandably what we believe, we have developed our own kind of political correctness. Theological correctness. Of course theological correctness is of utmost importance. And if one were writing a thesis, the words chosen would also be as important. But when we are casually conversing, or speaking from our hearts? We split hairs over the perceived and literal meanings of words. Jesus seemed to be less worried about these things. Nicodemus asked him how a man could be born a second time. Surely he can’t go back into his mother’s womb? Once He told a bunch of people that they had to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Know what they said? “Man that’s a hard word. Who can accept it?” Many of his followers turned away that day.
I can sit with someone and talk like Jesus did with Nicodemus. I could completely detail what Jesus has done in my life. I could explain who I was and who I am and what Jesus had to do to make me that way. But if I didn’t use words like redeem, atonement, propitiation, and sanctification, many would say that my soteriology was off, and that I hadn’t properly “witnessed”. We’ve even got standardized questions designed to assess someone’s soteriology to determine if we think he’s been saved.
It seems we can’t trust the spiritual. Even when Jesus said that which is born of Spirit is Spirit. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You can hear its sound, but you can’t tell where it goes or where it comes from. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. It’s a mystery of mysteries folks, I’m not capable of understanding it.
I can’t think of anywhere in the Bible that it says that we’ve got to be able to describe how it’s accomplished to have it accomplished in us. Jesus described it much more simply than that. We get it through faith. We gotta be pretty foolish to believe it because God’s wisdom is foolish to people. Maybe we can even laugh at our foolishness that fuels our faith like Sara did when she was told she was pregnant at 90. I used to know a man named Elmer who sat over behind the organ and laughed himself silly in every service.

So what happened on August 3, 1972? Maybe I realized that what I believed about Jesus applied to me. Did I understand? I don’t think so. Do I understand? I still have to come as a child. How do I know 32 years later that anything happened at all? I can hear the God-wind rustling the trees. I can feel it, smell it, be refreshed and comforted by it. I’m born of the God-wind. Happy secondbirth day to me.

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