“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3).
Recently, I heard a radio preacher reference a date in 1955 when he was “saved”, meaning the day he said he accepted Christ as his personal savior. This is common, where evangelical Protestant Christians recall a time when Jesus came into their hearts, and by believing in Jesus, salvation was secured. At the conclusion of Joel Osteen’s broadcasts, he encourages his audience to say aloud a simple prayer to Jesus that they accept Him as the Lord of their lives and repent for their sins, whereby Joel responds that he believes by this prayer, they have been “born again”.
I’m not here to question the sincerity of those who proclaim to be saved or born again. As a Catholic, I believe my baptism is evidence of being born again, where I am washed clean of my original sin, breaking the power of sin over my life. Protestant Christians cite a time when they made a personal choice for Christ, thereby transforming their lives to Christ, believing the bonds of sin have been broken though the death and resurrection of Jesus.
All of that said, I do believe a personal transformation is needed to take a believer from being a church member to a committed follower of Christ. In between Sunday worship services, a change is necessary, where the presence of God becomes a daily reality, and a continuous awareness of living (or not) in the divine will and purpose is always with you. For some, a metanoia, another word for transformation or metamorphosis, occurs, as explained by the apostle Paul, “I have been crucified by Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Paul is telling the transformed Christian that your life is no longer your own, as you become painfully aware of your tendency toward sin, but joyous in your continuous movement toward achieving a state of grace in Christ. Yes, we will continue to fall down in sin, but we’ll get back up quicker, confessing our sins and striving to change our lives to conform more completely to Christ. Our prayer may become a continuous awareness and dialogue with Christ, more than a morning or evening prayer. Over time, mediocre spirituality will become harder and harder to tolerate.
Being in a state of grace allows Christ’s love to flow strongly through us, bringing greater integrity in our witness, and encouraging others to want to know more personally the transforming love of Jesus in their own lives, and bringing their salvation in Christ more keenly into focus. The potential peace and joy that follows is invariably shared with others. That’s what evangelization is all about!
Have a Blessed Sunday!