I love the intimacy of letters that come from a loving parent to their children. It is not the sense of distance and unfamiliarity of an acquaintance or the formality of a letter from a colleague. Such letters are loaded with love and concern for the children’s well-being. So it is with John’s letter to his children in Christ. As one of the first followers of Jesus, John wants his ‘children’ in Christ to grow up healthy and be kept from spiritual harm.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 1 John 3:7-9 (The NIV translation)

Born again Christian has become a bi-word for American fundamentalism. It is based on Jesus’ encounter with a man called Nicodemus in John’s Gospel where Jesus says, ‘You should not be surprised at my saying you must be born again.’ John 3:7 (The NIV translation). Rather than a name for a particular brand of Christianity, being ‘born again’ or ‘born of God’ is a spiritual reality that has differing expressions for Christian people. What is common to the experience is a profound sense of the ‘parenting’ of God in our lives. It does not make us perfect children, by any means, but what it does is place an understanding of the rightness of God’s ways in our lives above any other. It is put in very black and white terms here by John and of course there are many different shades of grey in reality. Good people have a sense of right and wrong that, very often, works in conjunction with Christian values and Christians can too easily compromise, misunderstand, or simply choose not to follow, the good guiding of God in our lives.

The difference that exists in the experience of people born of God is that, despite any failure to follow or compromise in life, there is a seed planted that wants to grow. The way it grows is by being nourished in the tender care of God’s presence and guiding spirit. It grows through our beginning to get to grips with the daily discipline of prayer and bible study. It grows through understanding of spirit and mind what it means to live the Christian life and, the most essential part of all, living it out in daily life. It is a seed that grows to be a mature tree that bears fruit and nourishes those around it by letting that fruit be spiritual nourishment to others. Being born of God is a new beginning not an end and it is a seed that will only grow if we tend it in our lives. It will only bear fruit if will seek to live under the radiance of the living God but once that seed is there one thing is sure, it will trouble us to grow!

Lord God, I ask for the seed of new life in Jesus in me to grow. Through my small attentions to its life in me let it grow and bring a greater awareness of you. Let it grow, under the radiance of your light, to bear fruit that others will taste and know your goodness, mercy, love, and power. Let me not neglect it but treat it daily with tender care through prayer and mindful acceptance of your word to guide me. Amen.