“Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'” (ESV – Read the chapter)
One of my favorite ideas about God (and one I think is entirely true) comes from G.K. Chesterton in his book, Orthodoxy. Here it is:
Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daises alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
Chesterton’s point is that God has this eternally childlike nature from out of which He has the strength to look upon His creation with this perpetual sense of wonder.
One of the things that scientists assume about the world in doing whatever work they happen to be doing (indeed, any scientist who says the goal of science is to bring no presuppositions to the lab bench doesn’t really understand science very well) is that it will continue operating in the same way in a reliably consistent manner. In other words, all the various forces and laws of nature will work just like they always have every single time. Like will always produce like. There is a certain repeatable sameness to the world that is absolutely essential for life.
What Chesterton is getting at is that there are two ways of looking at this reality. One is that it is boring. The world is always the same. Nothing new ever happens. Boooring! This is how many grown-ups have become conditioned to look at the world. We begrudgingly go through our days, frustrated at having to do the same things over and over again. We endure the routine tasks and live for the weekend when we can do things that are new and outside the norm. But eventually, even the new things become routine and we are faced with the choice of pursuing new highs all the time or else learning to live in the rut of routine without too much resentment (and some just embrace the resentment). I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound like too great a way to live. And yet, how many pursue this path because they don’t know any other way and don’t have the strength for it anyway?
The other approach is to learn to delight in the sameness and find joy in the monotony. It is to learn to see the world through a lens of wonder such that normal things become exercises in joy and not drudgery. This is how children see the world. They are able to do the same things over and over without being bored. They can watch the same shows over and over without complaining that they’ve seen them before. They see through a lens of wonder. It takes a strength to do this that we are born with, but which we gradually lose from a lack of use.
Now, think about this for a minute. Imagine coming at the world from that first lens. Imagine taking that kind of a lens into eternity with us. What an awful time it would be! It’s no wonder Jesus said that we cannot see the kingdom of God unless we are born again. Unless we are born again–given a renewed strength to exult in monotony, to delight in the daily wonders of what God has made and continues making each and every day–we will not have the ability and the strength to see, much less enjoy the kingdom of God. We have to be renewed by the Spirit or we will not be able to enjoy Heaven–and God won’t force us to do so.
I wonder, then: Have you been born again? Have you had your appetite of infancy renewed? Are you able to exult in the beautiful monotony of the kingdom of God? Or are you in the grip of sin and older than your Heavenly Father?