Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3
Nicodemus came to Jesus wanting to understand who Jesus was, especially to find out if he was the long awaited messiah. The conversation to a very unexpected turn, something common with Jesus, when he spoke the words of John 3:3, “unless one is born again”. More than 1900 years later the phrase “born again Christian” would be popularized, misunderstood, splashed all over the media, and be the focus of a heated debate about what it means to be a Christian.
The debate was in part because for centuries people in the Christianized west grew up and lived with the idea that they were Christians because of church membership. But something happened, people came into an awareness of what it meant to come to faith in Jesus, to have a spiritual birth and experience the power of God like never before. That is what Jesus was urging Nicodemus to understand. Just because he was a religious leader did not mean Nicodemus had a saving faith in God. Just because he was a teacher of the Scriptures did not mean he was spiritually alive. Jesus urged him to give deep consideration to what it meant to be spiritually alive.
To be born again is to come alive spiritually by placing your faith and trust in Christ. It is about having a relationship in which you grow in your trust of Christ and in your love and devotion for Christ. Following religious traditions, having a head knowledge of the Bible and theology, performing good deeds in the community are not the things that open the Kingdom of God to you. Loving Jesus with all you have and all you are, being alive spiritually because of faith in Christ is what Jesus was calling for when he said you must be born again.