God’s Work of Art – by David Brauner


God’s Work of Art
There’s a wonderful story in the Bible where the term “born again” originates. It’s the tale of Nicodemus (John 3), who was a ranking member of the religious establishment that regarded Jesus as their enemy. Remember, prominent in the Jesus story is a power struggle between the organized religion of the day and the upstart Jesus, who was preaching a more personal and direct path to God. The religious hierarchy viewed Jesus as a subversive; a threat to their power and an affront to their deeply held religious traditions. Which he was. Nicodemus, despite being part of the establishment, seeks out Jesus to discern if he is the long-expected Messiah, which means anointed one. Under the cover of darkness, Nicodemus meets Jesus, who responds to the priest’s questions in this baffling way in John 3: “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”  To which Nicodemus famously replies: “How can someone be born when they are old? Surely, they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Nicodemus’ response about climbing back into his mother’s womb seems disingenuous to our ears today, but in that place and time, he had to have been confused. Paul writes the following Scripture, which I think unpacks what Jesus is talking about. This is Galatians 2: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” 

Paul is talking about being born again: a new life, in this life. There is a great deal of social and political baggage attached to the term born again these days, that many folks bristle at because of the socially conservative politics that are associated with the movement. Fair enough. But the true nature of the term is beautiful. In the best sense, being born again is not a set of political or social beliefs, as much as it is a transformation from the inside out. It’s absorbing God through osmosis. It’s letting him lead us through this life into a new life. Born again. It’s a whole new way of seeing and living. The Bible employs an elegant illustration to describe the process. That is, God as a potter, who lovingly molds us like a lump of clay into something beautiful. This is what Jesus is talking about. It transforms us individually, and therefore, the entire world. And that, Jesus tells us, pleases the Father. If it seems implausible that God cares enough to enter your life to transform it, trying asking him.  It’s called praying. And who wouldn’t want to be God’s work of art? The song pairing is “Nicodemus.” Until next time, stay safe, be brave and keep walking in the light.

Nicodemus
The first star in the winter sky
is not a star at all
it shines up there like a penlight
as darkness falls

a man wanders ‘round the desert sands
he is thirsty for a drink
but as he reaches for some water
he sees, it isn’t what he thinks

you and me my brother
we are all born the same
instead of trying to get home
we go chasing the brightest flame

when I was a young man
I don’t recall that much at all
I stumbled around in circles
but He did not let me fall

you and me my brother
we are all born the same
instead of trying to get home
we go chasing the brightest flame

Hey, hey Nicodemus
you are just like one of us
with some new eyes we are born again
and we learn how to trust


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