`GRANDMA, are you a born-again Christian?'' my teen-age grandson asked. ``Yes,'' I answered, but I really wasn't sure whether I knew exactly what that meant to him. I gave it a lot of thought during the next few days. I was pretty sure his sense of it and mine were somewhat different, but he was sincere in his religious beliefs and so was I. So I set out to consider the subject more fully.
I turned in the Bible to where Jesus said to Nicodemus, ``Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.''1 Understanding this profound statement was no simple task. I read, too, in one of Peter's epistles, of the demand to love one another ``with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass....''2
It seemed to me I must seek my answers through the spiritual import and day-by-day practice of God's Word; through coming face to face with the conflict between flesh and Spirit in daily living.
This very conflict points to the need for rebirth. Worldly, fleshly thinking needs to be put off, ``for all flesh is as grass.'' The glaring evidence of man as mortal, as a descendant of Adam, is instilled in us as the only truth of man. But is it? Can a sinning mortal be the image of God, as the first chapter of the Bible declares man to be? It takes a faithful effort to lift thought above this conviction in order to glimpse the true nature of all identity as spiritually inseparable from the creator, from our one and only Father-Mother God.
Wasn't it the clear understanding of the relationship between Father and Son that enabled Jesus to heal? His works and teachings illustrated his statement ``I can of mine own self do nothing.''3 It was the will of the Father that moved him. I saw that in order to follow in Jesus' footsteps it was vital for me to make this understanding my own. Is this what it takes to be a born-again Christian?
As my beliefs were challenged I looked to what Christian Science teaches. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of this Science, I began to find answers, and I knew I was on the right track. She says: ``Earth has little light or joy for mortals before Life is spiritually learned. Every agony of mortal error helps error to destroy error, and so aids the apprehension of immortal Truth. This is the new birth going on hourly, by which men may entertain angels, the true ideas of God, the spiritual sense of being.''4
Slowly and gently I am gaining a better understanding that limitations can be progressively overcome as we're willing to look beyond matter as substance and endeavor to see, even in a small degree, that the real substance of our being is Spirit; that life in the flesh is a temporary, false sense of existence, regardless of how solid it may seem at the moment.
It became evident to me that each time I turn away from old materialistic ways of thinking; each time I declare God's omnipresent goodness; each time I affirm that I have my being in God as His spiritual offspring; each time I realize that God is my Life, I am forwarding the new birth of the Spirit.
In adhering to this concept of being born again, I felt I was earnestly striving to follow the teachings of Jesus so that I would be found worthy to be called his disciple. But I had to pause and ask myself, ``If Jesus were walking the earth today and doing his healing works, would I be a faithful follower or would I be a challenger, cross-examining his words and works?''
I could see myself sitting at his feet, listening to his every word. I would follow him from village to village. But again I had to pause. Would I be the one he was addressing when he said, ``O faithless and perverse generation...''?5 Or would he say that I had failed to heal one in need ``because of [my] unbelief''?6 Or would I be the apathetic one he spoke to when he said, ``Could ye not watch with me one hour?''7
Christ is impelling me, sometimes gently and at other times forcefully, to lay aside the hates and fears of materialistic thinking. I am convinced that to be born again is the work of a lifetime, taken step by step, day by day, with the powerful love of God always present to guide us along the way.
1John 3:7. 2I Peter 1:22-24. 3John 5:30. 4Science and Health, p. 548. 5Matthew 17:17. 6Matthew 17:20. 7Matthew 26:40.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. I Corinthians 15:53