The teacher said, “Label these maps,” and I did that. But some of the girls went overboard, trying to impress the teacher with how good they were. So they colored their maps, too. I’m still mad about it because it made me and my buddies look bad. Got all the countries labeled right and I still got a lousy grade.
Pharisees in Jesus’ day colored their maps, too, so to speak. They went overboard, keeping all the religious rules with strict detail. Tried to impress God and made everybody else look like a putz. Now, one of those Pharisee guys was also a head official in the Jewish ruling council. Double toady. But he got curious about Jesus, and went to see Him secretly, late at night. He thought Jesus would be impressed with how good he was. But Jesus flunked him, said he’d never make it, not the way he was.
Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again [literally – “born from above“].’ The 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 my added note)
It’s not about how hard you try to keep the rules. The main thing is the Spirit of God, living in your soul. How does that happen? The Spirit gives birth to the Spirit. It happens when you accept Jesus’ offer of complete forgiveness and reconciliation with God. Then He gives you the Spirit. Alive. Inside. Because this is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus, God and Jesus take up residence in your soul. His words, not mine:
…I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. … On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. … “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (Excerpts taken from John 14:16-23 – Read the whole thing; it’s amazing!)
Being a Christian is not about “do this” and “don’t do that.” It’s about surrendering to Jesus and receiving His Spirit, His eternal life. That’s the main thing. That is why John said:
We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:13-16 )
How about you? Do you know what John said he knew? Do you have God’s Spirit living in you? If not, consider this: If you believe that Jesus was telling the truth, that Jesus really is Who He said He was, and that He really can connect you to God by His Spirit, then ask Him. Sincerely ask Him for His gift. You will likely have a few other things you want to say as well – but those are between you and Him. Ask Him for the Spirit. You will be amazed…