Our culture of celebrity fascination thrives on the fact that there are beautiful, rich people who have everything and lead the lives that we all want. They go to the best parties, drive the best cars, have huge houses, eat the best food, and date the hottest people. Even when things go wrong, it’s spectacular. I mean, who hasn’t, from time to time, wanted to shave all their hair and wear a pink wig? Then show ‘em all two years later with a comeback!
What we don’t see is the hurt, and the loneliness. More often than not, the most famous, the most popular people in the world are broken inside. They have literally everything that this world can offer. Like Solomon, they’ve tried it all – and nothing satisfies. Celebrities suffer from the same issues as all of us. In fact, they’re often magnified because of the pressure and spotlight put on them.
I may not know you personally, but I do know there is a sense of loneliness inside every man and woman. Everyone is lonely, deep down inside. Even if you are married or have lots of friends, there is still a deep-seated loneliness inside of you. Sometimes it sweeps over you when you are surrounded by people. What it really is is a loneliness for God.
And not only is everyone lonely, but everyone feels guilty – guilty about something they have said or done and now regret. It’s a guilt that is hard to shake. It can’t be drowned in drink or psychoanalyzed away.
That’s where much of the extravagance and acting out comes from. What do you do when you have access to everything, and you still want more? You go more and more extreme. Britney’s breakdown was actually a pretty understandable reaction to the pressure cooker that she was put in. She was broken. Though she had everything in the world, she didn’t have the one thing that would make her whole. Like all of us, she needs God, and to be born again.
“Born Again” has been so overused in our culture that it’s become a catchphrase, losing in large part it’s original meaning. For non-Christians, it means “crazy, radical, extreme Christians.” You’ll hear things like, “Oh, he’s a ‘born-again’ Christian.” As if there are “non-born-again” Christians. For those familiar with Christianese, it means “someone who has said the prayer of acceptance and become a believer.” While the second definition is much closer to the truth, it still misses the deeper meaning. Greg Laurie has put up a nice summation of what it means to be “born again:”
The Bible talks about a man who was very aware of his mortality. He was someone who had climbed his corporate ladder, if you will, a man who was powerful, successful, famous and wealthy. He was also devout, religious. Yet there was a hole in his heart that he didn’t know how to fill. He had heard about a rabbi named Jesus who was performing miracles, giving sight to the blind, restoring hearing to the deaf, healing leprosy and even raising the dead. No one had ever heard of such things. But most significantly, the things Jesus said were changing the lives of people.
Nicodemus came to Jesus respectfully looking for answers, and Jesus cut to the chase: “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3 NLT). In other words, “Let me just get to the bottom line with you, Nicodemus. You need to be born again.”
The problem today is that we don’t know what this phrase means anymore. The term “born again” has been pirated, emptied of its meaning, dragged through the gutter and given back to us, minus its power. Jesus said, “Unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Literally, it means to be born from above. It is a change on the inside.
God loves you, no matter what you have done, no matter what sins you have committed, and no matter how many failures you have had. God loves you. And He will change you.
But to believe not only means to take hold of something; it also means to let go. To let go of the sin that separates you from God is called repentance. The Bible says of this, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19 NIV).
We are all broken in one way or another. We are all lonely, and we all feel guilty. We try to escape it, drown it, forget. We think the things of this world, if only we had more and better, would fill that void. History and the news are full of people who’ve tried – and failed spectacularly.
Jesus is the Great Physician, the Great Healer. Many take this at its physical meaning. God can, and sometimes does, heal our physical ailments. But more importantly, he heals our hearts, he heals our souls. It’s only when I’ve been completely broken that I understood the power and meaning of born again, and the healing and restoration that God offers to us all.