January 12, 2010
The Most Important and Least Important Day
Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you,
unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
The nursery quietly awaits the arrival of its little master. The crib stands assembled and accessorized with matching mobile, blankets and padding. Diapers, booties and footy pajamas hide in a three-drawer changing table. The oak rocking chair sits sturdily in the corner nearest the tall window. As God wills it, in a matter of days a tiny life will fill this little room with cries, coos, and all manner of baby sounds. And the Crain home will be filled with great joy.
For now, a mood of patient and grateful expectation is upon us. There is an unexplainable excitement that surrounds the beginning of physical life—from the miraculous moment of conception to the long-anticipated time of holding a newborn closely in arms.
As soon as the day of birth arrives, however, it will simultaneously become the most important day and least important day of his life. It is the most important because, without it, he would not be able to enjoy life; but it is also the least important because it is only the starting point and then it is history. After the moment of birth, the most important thing is, of course, living.
Obvious as this seems, I was reminded again this week while reading Francis Schaeffer's True Spirituality that many professing Christians seem to languish in denial of this fact regarding the moment of their own spiritual birth. Ask a friendly, "how is your relationship with the Lord?" and you may hear an answer emphasizing a past decision, a moment of crisis, or an experience—as if past events were all that mattered.
"In one way, the new birth is the most important thing in our spiritual lives, because we are not Christians until we have come this way. In another way, however, after one has become a Christian, it must be minimized, in that we should not always have our minds only on our new birth. The important thing after being born spiritually is to live." (ch. 1)
Yes, we are grateful for the past. We look forward expectantly to the bright future ahead with Christ in His manifest presence. But our present walk with Christ, right now, is the most important moment. Romans 14:17 says, "The kingdom of God is [present tense] ... righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."
1 John 1:7 reaffirms this emphasis on the present—true spirituality is concerned with walking [present tense] in the light "as He is [present tense] in the light, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us [present tense] from all sin."
Intersecting Faith & Life:
What do you do if your mind is stuck in the past, or if your present fellowship with the Lord is broken? The next two verses (1 John 1:1) illumine the pathway, instructing us what to do: "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Ask if any sin needs to be confessed. What is His response to confession? Trust His promise of forgiveness and cleansing in Christ, and begin walking in the light with Him again. Take one step, then the next, then the next, the next... The important thing after being born spiritually is to live spiritually.
continuous revival, by Norman Grubb (Chapter 1: "The Walk")