“Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

John 3: 2-4

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At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.

Matthew 18: 1-5

I make my way up the stairs back to my room, on the second floor of a house across Hillsborough St. in Raleigh. It’s a pretty nice room–except for the tons of camouflage Army-issued equipment that fills and covers most of the floors. I’ve really tried to work at it and development a “clean room” ethic, but the truth is that every Thursday when I get back from the field, everything goes back to its fallen chaotic order. Oh well.

This morning I am led to reflection on some thoughts I had early this weekend. God moved me to write them because He and I want these thoughts and words to be a blessing for those that read them. That is my hope and prayer.

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On Saturday, around noon, I made my way to a park north of Downtown Raleigh. The park was called Spring Forest Rd. Park and it was hosting Viva Raleigh, the City of Raleigh’s very first city-sponsored Latin American/Hispanic culture event in which my dad had the opportunity to be one of the main coordinators and leaders to make it happen. It was a wonderful event and very needed as a way for the City of Raleigh to acknowledge the growing Hispanic community that has made North Carolina the state with the fastest growing rate of immigrant population.

It was an awesome family-oriented event with music, games, food, and the city and other organizations promoting programs and services directed at the Latino community. As I made my way to the park itself–I had to park on a parking lot outside the park because the park’s was packed–I noticed all the parents with their kids and how excited the kids were about the event. Among the many families I noticed one kid, Hispanic of course, wearing an Atlanta Braves hat, who asked his mom, “Mama, estamos esperando el bus para el parque?” (Mom, are we waiting for the bus that takes us to the park?) The mom replied yes and immediately a huge smile overcame the child’s face. It was an inspiring smile.

God touched me and moved me through the child’s smile and I was moved to reflection and to the worship of God. I immediately thought about how willing children are to believe and trust their parents at a moments notice without second thoughts. To be honest, it would take a pretty irresponsible and unloving parent for a child to not trust his/her parents at such a young age.

Within our 21st century, intellect-centered mentality we see it as naive to simply trust and believe without question—people that live like that are called fools, naive, blind, and ignorant. It isn’t the right way to live, the proper way to exist if we do not question those in authority–at least that is how the kingdom of this world teaches us to live.

Nicodemus, Eden, and necessity of Rebirth

However, my thoughts are led to Jesus. Jesus, on the night that Nicodemus converses with him, declares the following: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” To this statement Nicodemus questions Jesus on how is man able to be born again without having to be born as child through a woman once again. Jesus once again says “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” Nicodemus didn’t get it or at least not that night. In being born again Jesus referred to, or refers since He resurrected and sits at the right hand of God the Father, the need for the fallen nature and spirit of men (and women) to be restored through the justification of our sins and the sanctification of our being. Jesus was in no way stating that one had literally to be born again as a child but to be “restored” as a new creation set apart for the worship, service, and glory of God.

This interpretation of the need to be born again truly is correct and Jesus is true is stating the urgency and need of this event to take place in every man and woman, in order to be restored to God and His Kingdom. If we take a look back at the Fall of Man at Eden we notice how after sinning, mankind enters a state of pseudo-death. We do not die physically, at least not right away, but in being ripped apart from God, Adam and Eve died spiritually. We lost all sense of communion, unity, and any sort of relationship they had with God through their desire to sin and worship themselves. It is reasonable then for there to be a need to be restored, born again, spiritually through Jesus Christ and the restoration of our existence to God and the glory of His Kingdom.

To be like a child

I was led to another passage of Scripture through my experience above. At one point while here on Earth, Jesus was asked about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. I think Jesus sort of laughed at the vanity of their question (even though they probably didn’t know any better). Jesus answered them in His usual manner by being indirect and weird. He answered them, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus seems to have been indirect and vague in His response to the disciples, but I believe He was actually being very true and clear. You must believe like a young child in order to be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. You must believe like a child, trust like a child, love like a child, follow like a child, have the faith in the super natural like a child…ask your loving parent about the bus knowing they are able to fully trust in the answer they will be given.

I believe this passage is directly connected with Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in John 3. As citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven we are to be transformed into new creation in order to have the faith of a child and trust and love they way a child, untouched by the claws of the world, can love, believe, and trust. That is our goal: to be able to stand before a pack of hungry lions knowing that whatever happens will be for God’s Glory—for I am his child and I love and trust him.

I disagree.

Some people will say that to have doubted your faith at some point makes you a stronger believer. The experience of having mistrusted your loving Eternal Father somehow is supposed to build you and harden you for the fight ahead. I disagree.

What you are telling me is that doubting your faith (in essence, not trusting God), or sinning, makes you a stronger Christian in the long run because you have experience from the fights of life’s walk. No. The argument that doubting your faith makes you a stronger Christian in the long run is a world-centered statement made to scape goat our past mistakes and future failures–basically, excusing our short-comings. The Christian that comes to the faith and faithfully stands by Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit with the faith of a child will be honored, strengthened, and will receive in Heaven a reward greater than that of many. Experience is Satan’s way of excusing our sin–at least on many occasions.

Blessed.

Scripture is clear in that “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” (Psalm 1) Those who are transformed by being born again, and learn to live with the faith of a child (absolute trust in the Sovereignty of Our Eternal Father God) will be honored and their faithfulness will be honored by God to the extent it will overcome any perceived “need” for experience and doubt in your walk.

Therefore, I encourage my brothers and sisters, to pursue sanctification in the Holy Spirit and to persevere in the walk of the faith. Do not be discouraged for God honors the soldier that marches to the top of the mountain and yet is ready to fight the battle to come. Let us pursue Jesus’ challenge for our life by praying for God to work within us to help us believe like a child, trust like a child, and love like a child, knowing God has promised that our lives will be for good, a promised made to those who love the Lord. Let us be transformed through our resurrection in Christ’s very own victory over death.

Be blessed. Be encouraged.

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