Tag Archives: Christian

A Different Look At Being ‘Born Again’

John 3:3-[to Nicodemus] Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (New King James Version)

2 Corinthians 5:17-Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (also NKJV)

Hi, I’m [river in Ireland], and I’m not an addict. I’m not an alcoholic either, although such things run in my family. I’m not a sex addict, since it’s kind of hard to be one of those when you’ve only been with one person. I’m not a criminal, have never been homeless and had a pretty good childhood. And yet, I am what you could call a born-again Christian. In a sense, anyway.

When I first came to know God, I was part of a very small Independent Baptist church. I was fifteen. For most of the [censored] years since then, I’ve traveled in various Baptist and Pentecostal/non-denominational circles. If you’ve been there, you know that those churches tend to be full of ‘born-again’ Christians. One of the biggest things I’ve heard them say is how God brought them up out of the pit of Hell in the form of addiction, sex, abuse, crime, etc. I’m not discounting their conversions at all-in fact, I admire them. I can’t even begin to imagine what their lives were like or how difficult it has been to change. If this describes you, bravo-you are a better woman than I, my friend. Or man. Or whatever.

One thing I also saw, though, was how these were thought of as the only “real” conversions. It seemed that, the more dramatic the change, the more “legitimate” your faith. I heard it said that people who grew up in traditional churches or always lived on the straight-and-narrow couldn’t be really Christians because they couldn’t be “born again”. We weren’t ‘new creations’ because we have always lived the “Christian” life, even if we didn’t call it that. I wasn’t raised a Christian so technically my conversion “took”, but I had always lived like one. Leaving one denomination for another as many of my sorority sisters did counted because their previous churches were “dead” and they needed to go somewhere else for an “authentic” experience of God. I’m not saying that every new Christian I met felt this way or that this is the Evangelical “party line”, but it was something I hadn’t heard before and it made an impression. Some were downright rude about it, but others just spoke from their own experience. I see their point, but I think they’re missing something.

A big part of being “born again” is recognizing your need for God; that you can’t do it all by yourself. People being brought up from the depths of whatever usually acknowledge that a change is needed, that they are on a path that only leads to destruction. The “good kids”, however, usually think they’re doing just fine. That’s how I was, anyway. They might not see their need for God because, to them, He’s always been there; they’ve never known what it’s like not to have Him in their lives. They never “look for” Him because they don’t think they need to.

Then, enter college. I say college because this is a time that many people are away from home for the first time, but it can happen anytime a big change comes. At some point in our lives we will sit back, take stock of what we’ve believed so far and decide where to go from there. We’ll decide which pill to take and whether or not to walk through the door we’ve been guided to.*

For instance, take my friend D. He was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school the whole way and was pretty devout until he went away to college at 18. The first thing he thought when he got there was, “yay, freedom! I can stay up as long as I want, watch dirty movies and sleep late on Sunday because no one will make me go to church! Yay!” He thought he didn’t need to go to church or keep up a relationship with God because He was always going to be there no matter what.

He was partly right. God was there, just as He always is. However, it wasn’t long before he felt that something was missing in his life. Am I homesick? Not really. Friends? That’s what email is for. Is it a girlfriend? Maybe. When all those needs were fulfilled, though, something was still lacking. Then, he came across a Catholic campus ministry, found a church and resumed the observances that he’d been ignoring. The “hole” he’d felt was filled and he went back to the way of life he’d gotten “freedom” from before.

My point is that, despite his upbringing, he still had to make an active decision whether or not he still needed or wanted God in his life, which is the same thing I did when I “got saved” and my hard-living sister did when she found God and got onto a better path. It wasn’t a dramatic change and it didn’t look like the “brought up from the pit of Hell” things we often see, but he was still “born again” because he had analyzed his circumstances and decided that He still wanted to follow Jesus. However, a lot of people I’ve known would say that his experience isn’t “valid” because he didn’t “get saved” and make the 180° turnabout that many think is required. Even so, he still had to make that commitment, he still had to renew his focus on God and accept the charge that is given to all Christians to do God’s work on earth.

When I first learned about God, I was taught that our past wasn’t of concern to Him so much as our present and future. We often take that to mean that He can redeem even the worst of sinners because they are the ones most in need of it. This is true, but perhaps it’s the not the only “right” way of looking at it. Perhaps the past God doesn’t care about also includes our past of thinking we could earn “brownie points” by being good and of not thinking we need Him at all. Like I said before, the people who know they are on a destructive path usually know something needs to change and will do what they have to to make it happen. They’ll turn to God because they will learn that there’s really no other way. Those of us who think we’re okay without God might not see it this way. However, I still think you could say that we’re even *more* in need of being “born again” because then we will come to the realization that it’s Him that saves, not our good works. It’s not about what we do, but what He already did.

Each person has his/her own path to follow. Whether it starts at age four in Children’s Chapel, age 18 when entering a transitory period or age 40 after decades of hard living, each person experiences God and the message of Christianity in their own way. No one else can tell us whether or not our walk started in a “valid” way; it’s following Jesus and giving Him our whole hearts that matters most. I’m not the best at this, but I guess that’s part of the process that is the Christian life.

My cat Toby agrees, which I guess is as much of an ‘endorsement’ as I can expect. 🙂 He probably just wants me to feed him. Typical cat.

*Please forgive me the Matrix references. It was a big franchise when I was younger, back in the dark ages.

Bitchfest post #1

I’ve been in rare bitch form lately. I guess it could be because of being bored, tired and that it’s obscenely hot outside, but I’m not sure. Maybe I just need to take a break from Beliefnet, since that’s where some of it comes from. Oh well. I’ve gotta get some stuff off my chest.

1. Why the fuck is there supposed to be a ‘Christian’ opinion on everything? I’m seeing threads about what the ‘Christian’ opinion is on how many kids someone should have, what the ‘Christian’ opinion is about working on Sunday, etc. Normally I wouldn’t care much (well, the first one might be annoying), but the people who start threads like this and who do the most bloviating about what a ‘Christian’ family should look like usually have no children, are not married, perhaps never even had a boyfriend, and sometimes has never even lived on their own. Not to say that this makes them bad people, but it does make them people who don’t know shit about what it means to be married or have kids, and are in no position to preach to those of us who do. I don’t have kids now, which is why you will only see me on threads like that saying that I’m not going to tell anyone else what to do in that area because it’s between them and God, not me. I also don’t want to hear Canadians going on about people having kids they can’t afford and being a ‘drain on the American welfare system’ or that people shouldn’t ‘be allowed’ to have kids if they can’t afford them (yes, that was the question I saw asked, should people be allowed to have kids if they can’t afford them). Maybe they have the same setup in Canada that we do here with welfare, I don’t know, but someone really shouldn’t pretend to know first-hand about things when they don’t. Although I do that too sometimes, so maybe my irritation here is karma for irritating others with my bloviating. 😦 I know one person as a friend and she doesn’t mean harm. I know where she’s coming from, which might be part of my irritation. She’s a member of a conservative Christian denomination that I used to be part of as well (sort of), and that particular denomination does seem to venture an opinion about everything from your entertainment choices to politics to what kind of clothes you buy at the store. Not all are like this, certainly, but I am much more comfortable in a church that doesn’t have a problem with ambiguity sometimes and views the Bible as authoritative on matters of faith and life but not on science or, well, anything else. IINM (If I’m Not Mistaken), the Bible never even claims to be any of those other things. I’m just not really comfortable with the legalistic sort of viewpoint I hear in the posts, and I would probably feel the same way if it were anyone else posting. Which leads me to…

2) I hate it when people post long strings of Scripture out of context and expect us to take it as authoritative for their opinion. By this, I’m thinking of some people who will just slap up a few verses in answer to another post, but not give a whole lot of their own words. When we take the posts in a way the person didn’t intend, it’s even more frustrating because, well, how can we tell what you mean when you don’t say it? Either that, or they’ll say, ‘hey, you’re disagreeing with God, not me’ or ‘you’d know what I was talking about if you really took Scripture seriously/knew anything/were a Real Christian ™/etc’. Honestly, I don’t even read half of what some people post because this type of ‘talking down’ is all they do. I might not be doing my job as a host because I might miss stuff in my ‘scrolling’, but something tells me I’m not missing anything. I guess the same thing goes about people who post ‘lectures’ without really wanting to talk about them…I respect that they have an opinion, but Beliefnet boards are discussion boards, not lectures or blogs. LOL I’m glad I don’t have to share here, but discussion boards aren’t like that. We go to them to talk about things with others…IOW, discuss or debate. I know where to go if I want to be preached at.

3) Slater, get off the counter.

4) I hate how I sometimes trust people too much and get hurt. Or feel sorry for myself over stupid shit when I have so much to be thankful for. Luckily the former hasn’t happened too much lately. I also hate how I can be so damned self-absorbed that I miss so much of what is going on around me. I didn’t know about my sister’s health issues, for one thing. But then, neither did my dad, but I might have just gotten upset because I rarely get to see my family and yet they get to see each other pretty often. Granted, a lot of them live in one place, but I wish I had the money or time to visit. That’s not anyone’s fault, just something I have to live with. I live a really long way away from everyone, and while I’ve always been kind of ‘distant’, I hope no one thinks that means I don’t care. My life has been kind of boring lately, so there’s not really much in the way of ‘news’ to tell.

5) The Georgia Department of Labor has got to be one of the most incompetent agencies I’ve ever worked with. Long, aggravating story short, this is the second time I’ve had to deal with them on the same issue and also the second time I’ve had to appeal to someone higher in our state government to deal with the same issue. Hopefully it will be sorted out this week or so, or else I’ll be out 200 bucks I don’t have that I really don’t owe the DOL, but they say I do.

My bitchiness is winding down, so I think I’ll stop while I’m ahead. Thanks for listening, and feel free to add your own bitchfests. Let’s make this an ‘event’!

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