Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?”
–John 3:3-4, 10 (NIV).
We followed mirages,
And fought over their reality.
I tried to help carry others
But now I don’t.
I stumble forward by myself…
We brought in an enthusiastic speaker to get us revved up. He spoke our old beliefs as if they were brand new. He was funny, positive, and spoke in a rhythmic cadence that invited us to shout our hallelujahs and amens.
“Turn to your neighbor and say, ‘Jesus is ALIVE!’” And everyone did but me.
Later, a friend asked me “What did you think of it?”
“I think everything we said tonight was exactly the same as what we said in the 1970s, only we’re all grayer and slower.”
“Maybe we need to be reminded to go back to our old ways,” my friend suggested.
Maybe our old ways led to our decline,” I countered.
Jesus once said that we must be born again. He didn’t mean that we needed to return to infantile ways or to go back to do it all again the same way. I think he was saying to let go of the old ways and become something that we have never been before. We need to reach higher planes of awareness by thinking new thoughts and dreaming new dreams.
But we’re not doing that. We never have. The church has always expended most of its energy in staying exactly the same, keeping the same beliefs intact, and repeating the same activities. In fact, people will fight hard against newness and they hurt those who challenge the church effectively.
Why isn’t the church a champion for creativity, experimentation, and innovation? Why didn’t we celebrate Copernicus and Galileo? Why aren’t we more curious about scientific discovery? Why aren’t we leading the way in social change?
I don’t know. And to tell the truth, I’m losing interest in analyzing why we’ve failed. I’m only interested in moving forward, even if it’s by myself.
The apostle Paul once said that we were baptized to walk in newness of life. But we are scared to do it. It’s much easier to march toward death while insisting we are right.