“Your religionists came to visit me,” the man stormed. He was angry about what he considered an invasion of his privacy. I listened calmly and thought about his words. If he had been right about the visitors being but religionists, he would have had a legitimate complaint. The world does not need any more religion.
A missionary once said: “You have the same problem here in America as on the mission field — religion.” He was right. Religion can be a serious barrier that keeps people from salvation. Trusting in their ceremonies and rituals, they often miss the wonderful simplicity of faith in Christ.
Nicodemus was a religious man, a ruler of the Jews. No one would have guessed the emptiness of his heart. Yet, when he came to Jesus, the Lord saw through his religious exterior and informed him that he needed to be born again. Poor confused Nicodemus asked a logical question: “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:4). Jesus then explained that this needed new birth was a birth of the Spirit.
The new birth is a mystery. Jesus said: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). Still, we know how the new birth can be ours: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).