Born again human

People talk a lot (especially out here in America) about being ‘born again Christian’. But more and more I wish we were all just born again human. Here’s a little, quite personal reflection I wrote exploring these ideas in my own life.

I go to work, go to the gym and watch movies in a commodified culture; an environment so exploitative that results have come to matter more than relationships. 

This is how it works. Unregulated capitalism, political utilitarianism, mega-church religion, the $20 billion porn industry, the size zero catwalk, all bad art, predatory movie moguls. People are products to be used. Do whatever you need to do to win at life, to get the buzz and the bang and the bigger bucks. 

As a consumer within such a culture I am easily consumed. It becomes almost impossible not to absorb some of it into my own bloodstream. That’s why I have to detox regularly. Go slow. Jump off the digital production line. Go for walks to nowhere in particular. Lose myself in art. Play games. Discuss films. Read actual books. Pray slowly, in a less transactional, more contemplative way. 

Whenever I prize the prize too highly, its price becomes more than I can afford. I start to use people. I burn out. I worship production and efficiency. I start to believe that the end might somehow justify the means. 

But when I prize the process more than the prize, the process itself eventually becomes the prize. Relationships prosper. People thrive. Interruptions are no longer enemies. Work becomes an expression of worship. Life becomes more playful. Even failure can become a kind of success. I find myself less distracted, more present. Born again human.

Some people find this idea surprisingly disturbing. Perhaps they feel that their humanity, their flesh, is a thing to be denied and discarded in relentless pursuit of a higher, less earthy, more heavenly objective. This is a Greek platonic mindset, certainly not a particularly Biblical one. Like those red-toothed capitalists, it tends to plunder the earth and to dehumanize people in the urgency of its drive for results.

But when God made Adam, was it a Christian he made, bound for heaven, or a human designed for the earth? And when the Second Adam was born, was he a Christian? He was more fully and indestructibly alive than any other human who had ever lived. He had come on a mission to share this very life - creation, incarnation and resurrection - by rescuing us from the wild distortions, the oppression, the sin that dehumanizes us all. The Bible teaches that it is a glorious thing to be born, and then to be born again, in the image of God.

“There are no ordinary people,” said C.S.Lewis. “You have never talked to a mere mortal.” Or, in the words of that wonderful Dutch theologian and world-renowned doctor of jazz, Hans Rookmaaker, “Christ did not die to make us Christian. He died to make us human.”