We recently purchased the movie, "Bears". My grand daughters really enjoyed the movie, and so did I. In the movie a grizzly bear mother named Sky gives birth to two cubs named Amber and Scout in her den on a mountain slope. When April comes the bears leave the den. When they reach the lush valley below, the cubs meet the other bears, some of which pose a threat to the cubs.
The bear cubs are very cute and the scenery is spectacular. When I learned that the movie was filmed in Katmai National Park in Alaska, I started reading about the park which spans over four million acres of remote, wild, and spectacular country in southern Alaska. As I was reading I came across the story of Pemby.
The rangers have since concluded that a rare case of adoption had indeed occurred, even if the reasons why are virtually impossible to explain. The orphan Pemby is an orphan no longer. He has been born again. He is now Holly's cub.
The Bible tells us that we can be born again. We find this truth in John 3:1-3; There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus was as religious as anyone in Jerusalem, but he needed a complete conversion, a new birth. Being born again is not what we do. Being born again is when we quit trying and begin trusting Jesus who died our death on Calvary's cross in order to give us, in our death's place, His life.
Listen to this story found in Luke 18:15-17; Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
Our first birth gives us many treasures: a family name, a genetic inheritance, nationality, ethnicity. Birth determines or influences every aspect of our lives—whether we are tall or short, smart or not so smart, rich or poor, musical or can't carry a tune, color blind or sensitive to colors.
When we are born again, none of this changes. We have the same family of origin, the same finances. We can still sing . . . or not. We still take pride in our ethnic or national heritage. These elements of our identity that flow from our birth are treasures. Being born again does not erase them. Being born again puts them in their proper place. All of these identities become subordinate to our supreme identity as children of God.
Similarly, when we have theological disputes, those who have been born again see the people with “differing” views as dearly loved children of God. The status my opponents enjoy as children of God imposes on me the obligation to show them respect. To listen carefully to their arguments.
Being born again imposes obligations. We have joined a new family and this new family has a distinctive culture. 1 Peter 3:8 tells us, "Live in harmony with one another. Be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble".
In the same way, Jesus has modeled and taught a new way of being human. As born again Christians, people adopted into the family of God, we are called to mimic God in forming a new kind of human community, a community where people show to one another the same grace we have received from God.