BY DAVE STEEL
“Narnia! It's all in the wardrobe just like I told you!” So declared Lucy Pevensie in C. S. Lewis’s classic, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Lucy perceived the otherworldly kingdom of Narnia while her siblings were still oblivious to it.
And so it is with the kingdom of God. It’s real, though not everyone can see it.
Why is that?
Jesus declared, “No one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3). In saying this, he identified an essential prerequisite for participation in his program.
So what does it mean to be born again? How can a person be re-born? A religious leader named Nicodemus asked Jesus that very question. It turns out that being re-born is not something we do. It’s something that happens to us. Only the Spirit of God can impart the spiritual life we’re talking about here. No one can make themselves be born again any more than they could make themselves be born the first time. This new birth is, in the words of the apostle Peter, an act of God’s “great mercy” (1 Pet. 1:3).
And yet we do have to receive this new birth by faith, as Jesus explains to Nicodemus. In what has become one of the most quoted verses in the Bible, Jesus says that, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
As the “author of life” (Acts 3:15), Jesus often spoke with delight about his mission to impart new life to all who came to him. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10), he said. And again, “I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28).
This “eternal life” Christ gives us is not simply an extended life. It’s a fundamentally different life. In profoundly personal terms, the apostle Paul described it this way: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).
This new life is so much better than a “do-over.” We’re not simply given another chance at life. We now share in Christ’s own divine life, a life that enables us to live beyond our selfish, sinful nature, a life that brings us into vital union with Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul summed it up when he said, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17).