“Larry, last week you emphasized the significance of regularly conducting a spiritual audit to see how we are doing as followers of God. Then you explained what it means to be ‘born again.’ But many who are already Christians have been there and done that so why explain it again? Is there another lesson to this encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus and what does it all have to do with audits?”
The message revolves around Nicodemus himself, the religious leader, told by Jesus, “unless you are born again, you can never see the kingdom of God?” The only time Jesus mentions the term, “born again,” is when talking to a person who would already be considered a faithful follower of God. Why?
“Yes, but Nicodemus was probably struggling with his faith and needed a spiritual change. He needed a relationship with Jesus Christ to take the place of simply being a good church person.”
Exactly! He needed a change which is why becoming ‘born again’ is more than a one-time experience.
“Are you saying that even those of us who are ‘born again’ may need to be (gulp) ‘born again,’ again?”
Suppose you were the owner of a business and given a quota of making one million dollars profit before the month ended. That kind of goal seems tough… maybe impossible! But suppose you reach your quota by the fifth day of the month. Wow! What an achievement. Great news! Let’s celebrate! Now suppose you set the same goal for the next month and reach it by day four and you set the same quota for the next month and reach it again by day five? What would you think then?
“Well it sounds like either I will do a lot celebrating or more likely; learn to set my goals higher.”
That’s right. You also set your goals too low when satisfied with an initial “born again” experience and then don’t continue developing and strengthening your relationship with Christ. After all Jesus did not deliberately die on the cross for you once a long time ago. Christ continues to die for you today offering you the amazing gift of grace. All Jesus expects in return is an ongoing relationship with you.
Let me put it another way, suppose you get married, come back from a wonderful honeymoon then after returning… you go to your house and your spouse goes to his/her house and then both of you go back to the way you were before the wedding? What kind of relationship would that be? Pretty rotten!
“Ouch! That would be a pretty awful marriage. So, in other words, becoming ‘born again’ is meant to be more than simply a birth but the beginning of a growing sacred relationship with Jesus Christ?”
Exactly! This is why the terms, “spiritual audit” and “born again” apply to everyone, even those who claim a “born again” experience. Maybe it’s time to look at our audit again but now more seriously:
1. Are you actively pursuing and fulfilling God’s purpose for your life? God has a special purpose especially designed for your unique gifts and talents. What are you doing about it?
2. How are you managing the money God entrusted to your care? If God were to examine your checkbook would you be excited or nervous? Does God participate in your financial decisions?
3. Where are you utilizing your time and energy? What are your priorities? If God were to examine your schedule would your time be proportionally distributed between work, family and God?
4. How is your Christian witness with family and friends? Do you set a good example? Do you regularly pray with and for your family and friends? Do you seek opportunities to talk about God?
5. What is your influence at work? Are you respected and known as a man or woman of conviction? If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
6. How is your personal relationship with Christ? Can you honestly say you are growing in faith? Are you with a small group designed to encourage and hold each other accountable before God?
Jesus then said to Nicodemus and continues to say to us: “For God so loved the world he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. (John 3:16-17) Are you ready to be “born again?”