Did you know that Jesus only talks about being born again one time, and it is to one specific person (Nicodemus) and only found in the Gospel of John. On the other hand Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God countless times throughout the gospels (mostly Kingdom of Heaven in the Gospel of Matthew because they showed so much reverence to God’s name). Even when Jesus talked to Nicodemus about being born again, he mentioned the Kingdom twice, explaining why one must “enter” the Kingdom. I think we should focus more on what Jesus ACTUALLY said, and less on the Evangelical tradition’s infatuation and limited focus with this one biblical metaphor.
We need more of a Christ centered, and scripturally faithful theological approach. This does not mean discard the “born again” metaphor Jesus uses. It is both great and biblical! But lets keep things in focus and not major on the minors. When we talk about being born again and divorce it from entering the Kingdom of God (which Jesus did not do) we justify our individualism in which our faith in Christ is only about us. When we teach entering the Kingdom of God, we are subversively telling people that you have become a part of something bigger than yourself.
Once you are in God’s Kingdom, you must live as though Christ is King, and are now free to live free as a loved child of God. No longer enslaved to this world (its things, its appeal, it’s threats) but now may participate in what God has ultimately created you for… mission with God (to liberate, to save, to redeem, to reconcile, etc.) and community with God’s people (while sharing love with one another). And we do this while we await the final return of our King to fully establish His Kingdom here on earth.
Given this, the thing Christians should explore is what it looked like for Jesus to do Kingdom ministry in the 1st century, and what that might look like for the church now in the 21st century.