“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:6
I was adding some trim pieces to a wood working project I was doing for one of my churches and one of pieces required that I get the cuts just right if it was going to look the way it need to. What ended up happening, though, was exactly the opposite of what needed to happen. I removed the wood I should have kept and left the wood I should have removed. I had no choice. Filler and patches wouldn’t fix the mistake. I had to start over.
In a way, when it comes to you and me, that’s what Jesus says needs to happen. Sin’s affect on our lives is such that we’re the opposite of what we need to be. Where patience is required we find our tempers short. When kindness is needed we find that we just couldn’t care less how other people feel. When self control is the key that would make everything hold together properly we find that we just want what we want when we want it and forget the consequences. It’s in the wake of living our disjunctions that we learn that in life we’re incapable of giving ourselves a do over.
Sure, when it comes to little things we can just begin again and everything’s ok. But life? You only get one life and it’s up to you to get it right because you’re powerless to go back and start it over no matter how much you wish could.
But while it’s true that you and I can’t give ourselves a fresh start on life, God can. That’s what Jesus was trying get Nicodemus to see in their conversation recorded in John chapter three. “You must be born again.” “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The problem is that when you were born you were born of the wrong stuff and now you’re missing what you need to be the kind of man God planned that you would be. So you need to be born again, this time with the Spirit as an integral part of who you are.
Do we want to stay spiritually crippled? God is the only one capable of making the necessary change but he won’t change us without our consent and cooperation. We must say yes to the change and we must cooperate with the changing. If we don’t if would be like we agreed to receive a prosthesis knee or hip replacement but then refused to do any therapy or exercises to condition ourselves to use it effectively. It would still amount to saying, “No, I’ll just stay a cripple.”
So start over or stay a crippled sinner, which do you chose?