For the rest of this week (and year), we are going to be looking at a series called New. With the New Year approaching, many people are set on a new start and new goals. In this series, we will look at what the Bible says about our new life in Christ.
Key Verse: So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again. John 3:7
I had been living in Germany for only a couple of days when I first met Mike Addison. It was my first time to attend the quarterly community planning meeting in the village hall of the small German farming community in which I lived. The room was packed with locals; most of their families had been living in the village for generations. Hence, it was almost unbelievable to meet Mike there. In a village of just 230 people, there was another Welshman.
Mike, a retired sea captain, had lived his whole adult life in Germany, working out of Hamburg harbour. Naturally, I was excited to see what tips he could give me. I questioned away, “How do I best fit into this village? How do I learn the language? and so on.. I sat there totally unaware of how strenuously Mike had been trying to fit in for the past 40 years. With a mix of joy and sadness, he shared how a short while ago one of the local women used du while speaking to him in a conversation.
To understand the significance of this word, you must first understand something about the German language and culture. In German, a clear distinction exists between formal you (Sie) and familiar you (du). You typically express du only with those whom you know really well, it is kind of an acceptance as a friend.
Mike was saying, “Someone has finally accepted me as a friend.” He went on with tears in his eyes to say, “I have been living in this village for 40 years. I drive a German car, eat German food and drink German beer. I spent 38 years working for a German company, and I‘ve read a German newspaper almost every day. I speak better German today than I do English. I’m a better ‘German’ than most in this village, yet I’m still not one of them. I’m still not German.”
Mike taught me a valuable lesson. Being German is not about doing what German people do. To be truly German, one must be born German. The same can be said about a disciple: he must be born as one.
In John 3:7, during a conversation with a Jewish leader named Nicodemus, Jesus said something remarkably similar: “You must be born again.” Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews and a religious expert. When it came to living a religious life, he knew it all. In addition to being a Pharisee, Nicodemus was a politician. John writes that he was a member of the Jewish ruling council, a group of 70 men who had authority over every Jew. Nicodemus did not only keep the rules, he made them.
Nicodemus had everything that most men strive for authority, status, prestige, and money in the bank, but there was something missing. He needed to know God. Perhaps you can identify with Nicodemus in this area. If you want a new start for 2017, the only way is by New Birth.
Today’s devotional is an excerpt from a book I plan to release in 2017. If you would be interested in being a beta-reader, please send me a message via the contact form and I will be happy to send you some more information. Thank you.