What Does ‘Born-Again’ Mean?

I’m wondering this myself.  I always thought born again meant those who accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior because they had done something terrible and for some reason I had a visual image of the fringes of society.  Shame on me!

I’m born-again.  I’m a born-again Christian.  All Christians and those who accept Jesus as their Savior and have been baptized are born again.

Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” John 3:3

“…unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” John 3:5

Society paints born again Christians as somehow fallen and a bit freaky.  It’s been given a derogatory connotation.  If someone says, “I’m a born-again Christian,” it’s an immediate reaction and for me it is usually negative.  Like somehow you weren’t worthy enough to just be a plain Christian.

We are all born again if we accept Jesus and have been baptized.  As Jesus explains in John 3, you were born once of woman and second of the Spirit.  We are not automatically born saved.  That comes later as an act of free will.

In essence, to be born again is to be born of the Spirit and of water.

I’m wondering if you take this passage literally, born again means you have been baptized AND received the gift of the Holy Spirit. My understanding of being saved is you only have to accept Jesus as your Savior.  John 3:16 “…whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  This act gives you the Holy Spirit inside.

I feel ashamed I bought into society’s view of born-again Christians however it came about.  We should just be Christians, understood to be born again.  Unless the term is meant to differentiate those who have been baptized from those who haven’t?  Even so, I think the term has been grossly misunderstood and misused.

I’m counting on you all to put in your two-cents and offer up some clarification.