Ever been in a situation where you meet those who are ‘born again’, quote the same Bible, but something troubles you? Probably troubles you about how they talk about those who ‘need to be saved’ and in their approach to evangelise treat such people as objects, not seeing the other as a person and someone to walk with regardless of their response to what is termed the ‘gospel’. Or perhaps in the current scenario of Gaza / Israel? I have been there many times and often leave asking the question – are they my ‘brother / sister’? Do they know the same God (acknowledging that we all have a ‘sub-God’… for the one and true God is the one who ’emptied himself’ as the one who manifested that did so ‘being in the form of God’).
Recently with some major perspectives from VIctor Lorenzo I understand that in Abrham’s family there were a number of descendents. Ishmael and Isaac we are well acquainted with, but after the death of Sarah there were another ‘batch’ born:
Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan. The sons of Dedan were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. Abraham gave all he had to Isaac. But to the sons of his concubines Abraham gave gifts, while he was still living, and he sent them away from his son Isaac, eastward to the east country (Gen. 25:1-6).
At least another 6… same father, and at least 3 different mothers; descendents from a different womb.
In John 3 Jesus has a dialogue about being ‘born again’ (the only time recorded he had such a dialogue so the context is important) with Nicodemus. He was a significant person within Israel, a member of the Sanhedrin, and over the course of John’s Gospel we can see how he moves from visiting Jesus ‘at night’ to being one of two men who bury Jesus’ body, surely a path to clear discipleship. Nicodemus asks if he has to enter his mother’s womb again… To enter the same womb again (physically) is impossible but to enter the same womb again metaphorically would not bring about a birth from above.The womb to be entered is the womb of the Holy Spirit. [The virigin birth is just that – there is nothing in common with ancient mythological gods having intercourse with a woman, such as in the founding story of Europe; the Holy Spirit comes upon / overshadows suggests the concept of two wombs – that of a yielded young woman and a nurturing protective Spirit of God.]
Unless one enters the womb of the Holy Spirit one cannot see nor even enter the kingdom of God. To come from another womb might not mean we are not of the same ‘Father’ but we might not see the nature of the kingdom of God. Surely that is what we often encounter when we meet fellow ‘believers’. Even when the talk is of the ‘kingdom’ the nature of what is described is different. Maybe all of us are ‘children’ but perhaps many of us are related to one another as ‘half-brothers/sisters’. And of course, as always it has less to do with others than it has to do with ourselves, with our visit to Jesus ‘at night’ and we find ourselves entering not the womb of our mother again, but the womb of the Holy Spirit again. I need to see the ‘upside kingdom of God’ more clearly than yesterday… if I am to be transformed from glory to glory then the process has to continue.
I certainly do not need to be arrogant, labelling others as ‘half-sisters/brothers’, but neither do I have to accept when others speak of those who are ‘outside’ as less than ‘us’ that this is family talk. And in the current situation in Gaza where there is little pain displayed when we read of Palestinians losing their lives, but there is plenty of noise made outside an abortion clinic, surely even I can see the discrepancy. We must be within a different ‘segment’ of the family at that point – and to each ‘segement’ there are gifts available, for Abraham gave to each offspring from the concubines ‘gifts’.
As always it seems less about salvation from, but far more about salvation for, which always is about what I manifest… Manifesting a family likeness?