“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’”John 3:3
To be a Christian, is to be born again, that much the Scriptures have made abundantly clear. It wasn’t until later in my life, however, that I discovered this to be true.
When I was 13-years-old, I attended an evangelistic crusade where a gospel presentation was given. I decided to get up and walk down on the field—not because of an inward conviction of sin or an awakening of my heart—but mainly because it seemed to be what the crowd of people around me were doing. Following that crusade, while I mistakenly considered myself a Christian, my life didn’t bear any fruit or evidences that anything inside of me had changed.
Fast forward seven years, and I found myself in a similar situation. This time however, there was no loud music or crowds of people. Rather, there I was sitting alone on a patch of grass, with chaos and wreckage behind me. The life that the world had promised would bring me happiness had left me lower than I had ever felt. At that moment, I felt something foreign happening inside of me, something supernatural. The things which I had previously been pursuing felt distant and uninteresting. I knew something was happening, and out of almost a necessity, I decided to pray to the God I had learned about seven years prior. I knew something was different. I asked the Lord to come into my life, forgive me of my sins, and I committed to follow Him wherever He would lead me.
Looking back on my story, I realize now that there was something drastically different from the first story to the second. During the first story, I had made a profession of faith, but I had not actually been born again. During the second story, I was born again, and the Lord had created in me a clean heart, and renewed a steadfast spirit within me. Not only did the direction of my life change, but so did the desires of my heart. I no longer wanted to pursue the things I did in the past, but instead, wanted to live my life in total surrender to the One who so graciously saved me from the sin that enslaved me.
John 3 is one of the most recognized passages in Scripture because in it we find one of the easiest verses to understand regarding salvation. In this passage of Scripture, Jesus is sharing with Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, what it means to truly be “born again.” In John 3:3, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” I realized that the crucial point of distinction from both of my stories was the concept of being born again. I heard but I didn’t follow. The gospel didn’t change my life like it should for those who have truly been born again. Now, I know I am living proof that “whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
When was the last time you thought of the day, the moment, the circumstances that led you to trust Jesus? Have you ever thought back to the change it created? I repeat my conversion story to myself daily. I never let my story of being born again grow old. I constantly reflect back on that day—now years behind me—and think back on it with meticulous detail. For in doing so, I am brought to a place of humility and gratitude, that God would save a sinner, such as me. Ponder your conversion story day by day, and enjoy the refreshing memories of God’s saving work in your life. For great is the Lord, and greatly is He to be praised!