• Steven Marsh

Reborn: a Reflection on Psalm 15, Deuteronomy 9:13-21, Hebrews 3:12-19, and John 2:23-3:15

I am always leery about litmus tests for anything. Let me be more direct. Litmus tests as an indicator of whether one or not is a “true…,” you fill in the …, are bankrupt.

For example, gun interests want to make less restrictive gun laws a litmus test for Republicans. That is, Republican candidates for public office who are less restrictive are “true Republicans.”

And why was Fifty Shades of Grey a best-selling novel and now the movie a blockbuster? Could it be that the human fascination with BDSM: bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism have elevated BDSM to the new standard or litmus test for “true sex?”

Litmus tests are our efforts to validate ourselves and have a sense of homogeneity with a particular community.

The psalmist clearly indicates that anyone who walks blamelessly, does what is right, speaks the truth, does not slander, does not take up reproach against their neighbor, despises the wicked, stands by their oath, and does not lend money for interest will not be moved from abiding with God.

Who is that person? Litmus test Christians might lift up the person who believes in the inerrancy of the Bible. Others might indicate the person who believes that homosexuality is a sin. And still others might state only those who are pro-life, believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, and that homosexuality is a sin.

Only those who match the litmus test list 100% are true Christians are true Christians.

And the litmus test list goes on and on and on and on.

Litmus test Christians might lift up the person who believes in the inerrancy of the Bible. Others might indicate the person who believes that homosexuality is a sin. And still others might state only those who are pro-life, believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, and that homosexuality is a sin.

And the litmus test list goes on and on and on and on.

No one is blameless, not slanderous, and the like…except in Jesus. So, all of us are broken and can only remain abiding in God by having a simple faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

That was Nicodemus’ question. He wanted to be reborn, but didn’t quite get it from a physiological perspective. Human is born innately stubborn. We like our idols (litmus tests). We really do not want to get rid of them. They are safer than dealing with the just, merciful, and gracious God who loves us into a softened heart who then wants to embrace and be embraced by God’s love in Jesus.

Yes, we must avoid having an evil and unbelieving heart. I often wonder how the litmus test approach has further hardened a predisposed evil and hardened heart.

Jesus knew Nicodemus all too well. And he knows us. An effective Christian life is not one that adheres to someone’s litmus test. An effective Christian life is a life that is reborn and seeks after God. An effective Christian life is a life that demonstrates loving God and others.

No litmus test is comforting. What is comforting is the unconditional love and call of God on each of our lives.

Scripture readings are taken from the two-year daily lectionary cycle which follows the liturgical calendar and begins on the First Sunday of Advent.

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