Years ago, Johnson & Johnson coined a popular advertising slogan that said, “Having a Baby Changes Everything.” Boy (and Girl), were they right!
Having a baby does change everything. Whether it’s your first child or your seventh, a new addition to the family can quickly turn your world upside down. The dirty diapers, 2AM feedings, and crying can be especially shocking and draining to new parents. (It is even rumored that the US government tortured inmates with tapes of babies crying at Guantanamo Bay. I don’t know if it’s true, but I bet it would work.)
One man has even said, “Having a baby is like being in a Las Vegas casino. You lose all concept of time, you feel overwhelmed, unprepared, you don’t know what to do next and when all is said and done, you wonder where all your money has gone.”
In fact, having a baby not only changes a person’s schedule and priorities, it should also impact one’s theology. God has tucked away some deep theological truths within the life-changing event of childbirth that we should appreciate.
Whether you are an obstetrician, midwife, mother, father, or just someone who has had the privilege of being born yourself, ponder…
…this brief theology of childbirth and see what it can teach us about our God and ourselves.
1. The birth of children reminds us of God’s universal blessings.
In case you haven’t noticed this before, children are born to all kinds of people. Pastors have kids. Celebrities have kids. Janitors have kids. Northerners have kids. Southerners have kids. Republicans have kids. Democrats have kids. Christians have kids. Atheists have kids. Law-abiding citizens have kids. Convicted felons even have kids. Children are a universal gift from God.
Matthew 5 reminds us that, in many ways, God’s goodness is shown to men everywhere. In verse 45, our Lord said,
“God causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Look around! The sun and rain are God’s readily available blessings. We call this common grace.
Common grace includes those special gifts from God generally and universally found among men. What is true of the sun in the sky, is also true of the son in the womb.
We could even modify the words of Christ and say, “God causes conception to fill the wombs of the evil and the good, and sends children to the righteous and the unrighteous.”
God does not give the sun or the rain to us because we deserve it. He does not give men children, either, because they are superior or noble. He does it because He is not stingy. He does it because He loves all men and because He is a good and gracious God.
As you think about the birth of children, be sure to reflect on God’s bigheartedness towards all men.
2. The pain of childbirth reminds us of Adam, the fall, and point us to Christ.
The travail of childbirth is often thought to be the most excruciating agony known to man mankind. Because of this, whenever I am asked on a scale of 1 to 10how bad my pain is, out of respect for mothers everywhere, the highest I will ever go is 9. As Brian Regan has said, “Women in labor have exclusive rights to 10.” (All the mothers said, “Amen!!”)
Nevertheless, we must never forget that the extreme anguish of childbirth is not just a biological necessity. It is also a theological echo.
After the fall of Adam and Eve, God doled out judgment to each guilty party. Adam, for his part in the fall, began to sweat and ache as he labored with his hands. Eve, for her part, would also sweat and ache as she labored with contractions. In 3:16, God said to Eve,
“I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth…”
It seems, from these words, that God originally designed a world in which women would give birth with little or no pain. (Divine epidural, anyone?) But mankind ruined this through sin. Since then, every woman that has moaned and groaned in the unequaled agony of labor, has felt the still looming affects of our ancestor’s choice.
Labor pains are a reminder that sin is very real, very present, and very bad. Sin has done things to the human body, and soul, that God did not intend. Nevertheless, God promised that, one day, another women would give birth to a Son. He would come for a special purpose, to save us from the very sin that was killing us.
3. Physical birth reminds us of the necessity of spiritual birth.
Whenever you hear of a child being born, your mind should immediately rush to John 3. In this dialogue with Nicodemus, Jesus uses obstetrics to illustrate a wonderful spiritual truth.
Unphased by Nicodemus’ flattery, Jesus, in verse 3, gets to the heart of the issue:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus, seemingly confused by this teaching, asks,
“A man cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”
Jesus then answers,
“Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
What did Jesus mean by this?
Some have vainly argued that the “water”, here, is the water of baptism. Thus, they attempt to make baptism a requirement or a necessity for salvation. That notion is clearly contradicted elsewhere in Scripture. So if it’s not baptism, what is He referring to?
The key to understanding verse 5 is verse 6. Following His words about the water and the Spirit, Jesus sheds light on what He was saying,
“That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
Paralleled in these two verses are the ideas of being “born of water” and being “born of the flesh.” These refer to the same event. One of the first indications that a woman is in labor is that her “water” breaks. As newborns make their grand entrance, they are born through both water and flesh.
Jesus is saying, “In order to see the kingdom of God, you must first be born physically. But that is not enough. You must also be born spiritually.”
To put it in simpler terms, here’s what Jesus was saying. If you are born once, you will die twice. But if you are born twice, you will only die once. Your physical life will one day be ended by physical death.
The question remains, will you then enter eternal life in heaven? Or will you enter eternal death in hell?
The good news is this: Christ was born, lived, died and rose so that you could be born again.