In our bible study, we have been moving through John. Early in John, the reader is held up by dense points of Christian doctrine. Perhaps the most widely known story that poses a great theological question is that of Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus (John 3:1-20). During this conversation, we learn that to be saved, we must first be reborn. Not reborn in flesh and blood, but in the Spirit. This was a hard crust of proverbial bread for Nicodemus to chew and it continues to be one of the more mystical realities of Christianity. The idea that we must be born again in our hearts and minds can sound a bit strange so to understand this perplexing idea, I look to what I know.
I pen this note while sitting outside watching creation slowly transform from winter to spring. In winter, many living things died and, as spring approaches, they are now beginning to grow again. They have been reborn in order to continue their purpose. This theme mirrors a phoenix: a mythological bird that dies in a fiery swell, rises from its ashes, and begins a new life. The idea of rebirth is not just in the natural and mythical realms –we can also see rebirth in our own lives. In life, we often go through seasons of loneliness, betrayal, and other hardships. These seasons are eminent because life on this side of eternity is rife with chaos. However, despite the ever-present chaos (and sometimes even malevolence) of this world, we are constantly experiencing rebirth right before our eyes and even inside of us.
Whether your rebirth in Christ is well aged with time or you are only recently living your new life in Christ or whether your rebirth is a reality yet to take place the process of dying to yourself and going back to the Father’s embrace is a daily - even hourly - process. The Lord will always call his creation back to himself. While we may not be able to see it so clearly as a phoenix rising from the ashes or flowers sprouting from the ground, I urge you to open your eyes and observe where you are.
If you are in a time of loss, then take heart! The Lord is growing things in and around you that you cannot yet see.
If you are in a time where nothing seems to be moving, fear not! Perhaps it is time to let go of things that seem to stabilize or define you and allow Christ to hold you up.
If you are in a new and frightening place, then rejoice! The Spirit has pushed you from the womb to begin a new part of your life and to continue to do the Lord’s work around you.
Remember, just as the tender shoot rises from the ground in spring and just as the phoenix rises from its ashes, we too must rise. Rise. Rise from your ashes of hurt and heartache. Rise up and move ever closer to the throne of Christ.
- Eddan Sparks