“Jesus answered [Nicodemus], “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (Reference: John 3:3-8 )
Here, for many Christians, is the heart of the matter concerning re-birth. It comes from God, and while water baptism is the outward sign, the true commitment and change comes from within and is internal. You can see it, if you know what to look for. But if you do not know what to look for (and the best way to know is if you yourself have been reborn), then it will remain a mystery to you.
How can you example the movement of the Spirit? How can you help someone understand what it means to see life so radically differently that it is like you have become a different person – no longer the person you were before, but a new being living a new way of life. One historic Anabaptist preacher, thought to be Eitelhans Langenmantel, of Augsburg, said it in this excerpt that follows: “There is no other birth [meaning re-birth – I am guessing] than hearing God’s Word and receiving it into one’s heart. Such persons are willing to do everything that the Word teaches them in their hearts, according to the will of God (1 Pet. 4). If they do this, no longer doing the will of the world but the will of God, they are true children of God; they are also truly born again. But those who hear the Word and refuse to do what the Word teaches (which proceeds from God and was opened up by Christ), these can never be born again until they hear the Word in their hearts and obey it, as Christ taught us.”
Modern Anabaptists/Mennonites speak not so much of being born again but being changed by the Spirit into a new being, shedding themselves of old ways and following the ways of God. And more importantly (which explains why being “born again” is an incomplete concept for them) continuing to seek out and do God’s will. It is not just a one time moment, but a change in thinking that lasts one’s entire live.
May you, beloved, set away your old life never to pick it up again and instead follow God listening for the Lord’s divine work and making that your life’s work and priority. Selah!