The Holy Spirit: Born of the Spirit
Donnell Wyche — May 9, 2021
Jesus wants us to get caught up in the goodness of God that produces joy and invites and welcomes the renovation of our heart by the Spirit of God. Maybe this is why Jesus says,
5Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5–8)
This renovation of our heart by the Spirit will expose to us the ways that we have traded in the good and beautiful life by believing and trusting the lies and false promises of the Empire, instead of the goodness of God.
Jesus calls us, his followers, to live counter-culturally in the world. Love your neighbor as yourself, and love your enemies too. When you are wronged or hurt, don’t seek revenge, instead work to forgive, as you have been forgiven. Trust in God, seek humility, and be faithful.
“Are you experiencing joy?”
Our experience of joy can be a helpful indication of whether we are living “abundant lives” or lives that are just full (with stuff.)
To Come Alive, Fully Alive
Jesus says something in Matthew 13:44 that’s striking,
44“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44)
I love that the emotion that Jesus describes is “joy” when talking about what someone has when they discover the goodness of God.
Many of us are just eking out these quiet lives of desperation, trapped in false narratives about ourselves and God. If we are experiencing more fruits of the Empire than of the Spirit, we find ourselves needing to be born again.
Many of us have been taught that being born again is just about saying a prayer of surrender, “Jesus, I give my life to you.” We do that once, and we think it’s done. But following Jesus is about surrendering daily. We have to die daily (Luke 9:23–24).
We think Jesus wants a sacrifice from us when what he really wants is our obedience. Are we doing the things that Jesus commands us to do (love our enemies, serve the poor, trust God) so that we can learn to trust ourselves to the God he called Father. As we allow the Holy Spirit to renovate our heart by offering ourselves to God, the Spirit will help us see ourselves and will expose the lies of the Empire.
The culture of the Empire wants us to be unsatisfied. The Empire knows that we are desiring beings, so one of the ways that the Empire exploits this is by filling us with anxiety. Paul says,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
We have to born of the Spirit because only the Spirit will expose to us how we have accepted the Empire’s worldview over and against God’s view of us and our lives. This takes a renovation of our heart.
What is needed: a Jesus Narrative
In order to agree to a renovation, a painful and often messy experience, full of upheaval, we have to trust the builder. We must allow God to work God’s transformation in us. This starts with a completely revised picture of God.
Jesus starts his ministry by challenging our thinking from the onset. You want to follow me, you want to experience life, real life, then give up your way of living. Jesus says, I’m going to show you the way, but you have to do something first, you have to surrender your thinking. It’s like…
44“a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44)