Born Again Weirdos
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3
The first time someone spoke openly to me about his alcoholism, it made me uncomfortable. I don’t think he had any idea of my growing addiction, but for some reason, he talked candidly about his own struggles with alcohol. I’m not sure why, but he told me how much better his life was in recovery. I should have been happy for him, but I found him a little weird for talking so openly about it. He was a radical and it made me uncomfortable.
I’m afraid I’m on the other side of this now. Often, I’m a little too open, which makes some people squirm. With the general public, bringing up addiction and recovery can be a conversation killer. It’s often the same with using the phrase Born Again. I grew up in an Evangelical Christian tradition, where Born Again was part of the landscape. It wasn’t strange then, but I’ve since learned what the phrase means to others: Weirdo, religious nut.
It is of course, a radical idea, just as it was 2,000 years ago, when Jesus told Nicodemus that if he wanted to know the kingdom of God, he must be born again. Nicodemus was one of the Pharisees, who, as a rule, disliked Jesus. This particular Pharisee though, truly wanted to know God, and so, Jesus told him how to get there. If he wanted the new life, he needed a new beginning.
Jesus explained that just as Nicodemus was born once into a physical life, he must be reborn into a spiritual life. Yes, he’d experienced a physical birth, but if he wanted to know God, he needed a spiritual birth. This second birth would necessarily set him apart and make him look odd to his fellow Pharisees.
This is the nature of rebirth and recovery. The new life necessarily transforms us, making us appear strange to those who aren’t there yet or those who don’t want it. Leaving the old life for the new one, will always appear peculiar or even offensive to those still living in the old.
Yes, embracing a new life may look strange. It may make people uncomfortable. For those of us who are sick of the old life though, we just won’t care anymore. We desperately need the new life and we’re more than ready to be born again into faith and recovery.