In John 3 the term for the new birth that Jesus uses is a personal term, not an impersonal term. We are born of God into a new family. This is our identity. We are rooted in this sense of self and worth in Jesus Christ. This is the same terminology we saw over in John 1:12-13.
We find much of our worth and acceptance in our identity. When you’re a kid, it’s often what club, team, or friend group that you are a part of. As you get older, it may be what college you attend or career you hold, or what economic status you are a part of. Maybe it’s even where you live, what car you drive, and so forth. I’ve mentioned before that the wealthy town I grew up in was much like this (in fact, newer neighborhoods that were developed just outside my community but were merely touching it were marketed by the fact you would get the same zip code as the one I was living in, just so you would have the status of that zip code and town on your correspondence).
Remember also that I’ve mentioned that I did not grow up in wealth. My blue-collar Dad worked hard on a factory floor so we could live in an undersized 19thcentury farmhand’s home that was in this very wealthy community. I wore cheap Sears sneakers that got me laughed at. I didn’t have all the toys all the other kids had (I never owned a G.I. Joe, and didn’t get an Atari until they were almost discontinued). Hence, I wasn’t born into wealth as many of my friends were, yet I had all the rights and privileges, even a certain level of acceptance of being a member of this community by virtue of my birth. But, most importantly, I had the love of my parents.
While that’s a somewhat poor example of our status as Christians, think about it: You were not an original part of the wealth of heaven, or God’s Kingdom. You were physically born here on this lowly earth. You’re a spiritually dead and poor person whom God gave this heavenly spiritual birth from above and made alive, granting you all the rights and privileges of His Kingdom, and you are accepted and loved as His child! The world around you may not understand you, may make fun of you and even hate you, but you have the love of God “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit”.
That is the grace of the Christian life. What did you do to earn it? How special were you that you would receive this gift? See, in Nicodemus’ belief system, you were deemed special by virtue of receiving material blessings and being a Jew. But on the converse, a lack of these “blessings” demonstrated your despised status with God, and was evidenced by being poor, by not being Jewish, and by having poor health. The Jews believed these people were not special or loved by God. Yet, Jesus didn’t distinguish one group over the other (He is not a respecter of persons—Acts 10:34). He came into the world, died for the lost, and those who believe in Him are saved because they had been born from above, “not of works lest any man should boast”.
If you’re saved by your works you’re either bold and not humble, or humble and not bold. Christians are saved by grace and are thus in a different category.
Our identity in Christ doesn’t have room for pride, but room for love and grace towards everyone else. When we realize we are not special, we then realize that it’s not about us, but about Him. Your salvation will lose all the types of pride you once held, such as gender pride, or racial pride, or cultural pride, or economic pride, or family pride, or national pride. Boldness and humility will work together and you will become a new person.
- “The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up your self, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”—C.S. Lewis from Mere Christianity
- Thank God for our new birth and that we did not need to try to earn it.
- Thank Him for placing His name on you, giving you a new identity in Christ, and that you are eternally loved by Him.
- Thank Him for the power of His future in your life now and for the change that will create in you.
- Today, spend some time thanking Him for the victorious blessings of your salvation that you experience right now in your life: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Have you thanked God recently for those whom He is going to save?
- Contemplate now on how much He loves you right now, right where you are.
- His love for you is demonstrated by His sacrifice for you.
- His love for our church is also demonstrated by His sacrifice for it.
- Thank Him for His love right now regardless of your situation, problems, or even comfort and peace. Just thank Him in all things.