I don’t follow celebrity news, but sometimes celebrity news follows me when I log onto my various email accounts. Because of my Internet searches for “abornagainbeliever” (my website with WordPress), I am bombarded with “recommended for you” suggestions that include “born again”. Recently, as some of you might know, some high-profile celebrities have claimed to have become born-again Christians or to have had a “spiritual experience” that they attribute to God. Whether or not these experiences are genuine spiritual rebirths is for God to know. However, for your edification, and with a nod to celebrity cultural norms, I’ve compiled a “Top 10″ (plus 1) list of the main characteristics of a newly born-again follower of Jesus. You can compare these characteristics against the celebrity reports and draw your own conclusions.
TOP TEN (PLUS ONE) CHARACTERISTICS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE NEWLY BORN-AGAIN:
- Total forgiveness. People who are newly born-again harbor no ill will against anyone. They are so full of God’s love that they love everyone around them, even strangers and people they’d previously despised or were afraid of. Their love is genuine, flowing from God to everyone around them. You can feel the love. You don’t have to look closely for it or watch for signs of it; you can feel it at ten paces. It’s like a force emanating from the person because that’s exactly what it is – the force of God’s Spirit that has taken up residence with the newly born-again soul.
- Total addiction to the Bible. People who are newly born-again can’t get enough of God’s Word. It is like mother’s milk to them. They devour the Bible night and day and always have a Bible close at hand. They also want to be around other people who are born-again and who are talking about God and Jesus and preaching the Word.
- They are the same, but different. People who are newly born-again have the same personality type as before their spiritual rebirth (if they are extroverts, they continue to be extroverted; if they’re social butterflies, they continue to be social butterflies, etc.), but their values change – usually radically – to align with God’s Commandments and the teachings of Jesus.
- They are grounded. People who are newly born-again have no anxiety, no fear, no worries, and no stress. Nothing bothers them and their patience is profound. They stop drinking and taking drugs, including caffeine. They no longer need any emotional crutches (addictions) because their emotions are healed and in balance. They make sense when they speak; their thoughts are not scattered; they don’t jump from one topic to another: They are deeply empathetic.
- They focus on preparing to preach the Word: People who are newly born-again can’t wait to start preaching the Word. God usually has to hold them back one way or another until they’re actually ready (that is, until they’ve learned the foundational principles of the Kingdom and have been tested and proved, in much the same way as Jesus was tested and proved). Preparation can take years or even decades, depending on the soul. God also holds individuals back until they are needed at a specific time.
- Their non-Christian family and friends start to avoid them: People who are newly born-again are spiritually repugnant to those who are not Christians. Their non-Christian family and friends will drift away and then outright avoid them. Non-Christians feel incredibly uncomfortable around newly born-again believers.
- They glow and are full of joy: People who are newly born-again have a “glow” that is discernible to others. They are full of joy and it shows. They seem to have fallen in love or to have just won the lottery, which is not far from the truth: They are in love (living in God’s love) and they did win the lottery (the spiritual one).
- They tell you that they’re born-again. People who are newly born-again can’t stop talking about how they’re born-again. They usually go into minute detail about how it happened and how their life changed in an instant.
- They want to follow Jesus: People who are newly born-again want more than anything else to follow Jesus. It becomes their life’s goal. They no longer focus on making money or romantic relationships or working out or any of the other “cares of this world”. All that matters to them is doing God’s will, not as a slave or a servant, but as an adopted child of God.
- They have a compelling rebirth story: People who are newly born-again love telling the story of how they were born again, and the rebirth experience is usually quite dramatic. It is a one-on-one personal encounter with God, so it’s not surprising that it’s dramatic. Spiritual rebirth stories are as compelling and unique as “when I met my husband” or “when I met my wife” stories told by older couples. The rebirth story becomes a central pivot point of an individual’s mythology, a clear demarcation between “before” and “after”. The story never changes and remains as crystal clear in the mind of the spiritually reborn as when it happened. This is the initial imprint of God’s Spirit on a soul, so the memory of it is supernaturally infused in the believer.
- They have supernatural gifts: People who are newly born-again display any number of supernatural abilities they did not have before, such as being able to tell the future, heal others, speak in a language they never learned, and command aggressive animals to become docile. They can also “see” and “hear” things that others cannot and have the ability to interpret scripture so that it “makes sense” to others. These are all signs of God’s Spirit working through them. After the initial outpouring of gifts from God’s Spirit at the time of spiritual rebirth, these abilities continue in genuine born-again believers, though not with the same rush and frequency as at the initial stage. Other supernatural gifts may be given later to born-again believers as their faith grows and deepens.