“I hate myself” used to be a common statement that I would often make. It wasn’t until my children got older and I had to do my chaplaincy work while in seminary, that it was pointed out to me what I was saying and how it revealed how I “really” felt about myself. The problem was that in the end, I forgot who I was and to whom I belonged. I am a baptized child of God – chosen by God! God loves me! God created me!
In his book, “The 7 Habits of Jesus,” Robert Schumalzle puts it this way: “Baptism means wash. And, when the church washes and repeats aloud the command of our Lord Jesus to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, – something happens – That person becomes a newly adopted child in God’s eternal family. At that moment, our sinful separation from God is washed clean. The Holy Spirit plants the seed of faith within us – Christ begins to dwell in us and eternal life is a promise by the Father. Like our physical birth into life, our spiritual birth into a new life with God is experienced – This is not anything that we can do – that I can do – but what God does in us and to us. It is the Holy Spirit that washes us and cleanses us – and it only happens because God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. Baptism is the Church’s proclamation that we are who we are – We are God’s Child and we belong to HIM” (pp. 49-50).
Remembering who we are and to whom we belong to – changes everything! At least, it did for me! Poor Nicodemus! He just didn’t understand what in the world Jesus was talking about when he was told to be “born again.” Jesus tried to explain to him that he was not talking about physically being born, but to be spiritually born – with water and the spirit! Essentially, Jesus is saying to be born from above is to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
And with this baptism of Word, Water, and the Spirit – we are born again!