What is one obvious thing out of the many that characterize all human beings? May I suggest the simplest that deserves not much thought and shouldn’t be missed is that all humans are created being (excluding Christ who though was truly human, he was not a created being, though birthed by a real woman). We all have a particular day which tells or shows the very first day we breathed our first breathe on earth. From childhood, this day becomes very important to us because it only comes once in a year, and only 24 hours of that year. And whether you are 2 of age or 50, you love this day because in it you are put on a pedestal, and it is all about you. All the attention from relatives, friends, and even strangers is zoomed on you. It is as if the microscope lens of the universe is fixed on you and all the lighthouses in the entire world are torched towards you. You are the spotlight!!! Foods and drinks are served in your honour, and in honour of the long-held tradition, a cake(s) is (are) baked and enjoyed. In addition, gifts are what cheers you most as you hide behind your hope that hopefully your “goodness” somehow has earned you some benefits. In the end, a birthday celebration is a good thing, and we should enjoy them. But, is this all there is to a birthday? Are cakes and gifts the climax of our enjoyment?
In this short article, I am suggesting that there is much more to this celebration than just cakes and gifts. To show this, firstly, I am going to highlight on the problematic perspective on the ground, and secondly, I am going to suggest another perspective. Finally, I am going to divert your attention to something much better and greater.
It is very sad to say that today’s birthday celebrations are an end in themselves, and they do not reflect nor point to something higher and worthy. Year after year, we keep buying cakes and gifts for our loved ones, and we stop there. The problem is here, we have removed God and eternity from them! Here is a good example: ‘We have a friend who has a birthday next week. So we secretly plan a party for him and put into place all that we would like to happen on that day that we think is good for him. We each go out of our way and buy something for our friend that we best think is good. Well, that day finally comes; we surprise our friend by showing him what we have done for him, and just before we start the show, we for the first time ‘invite’ God to be with us. And also so that things may look spiritual, we add God’s name in our wishes for our dear friend.’
This is what we all do. Do you spot the problem? God is merely an attachment to our feast! God and his goodness is not thought of during our initial planning, in our gifts we buy, and never do we even pray for our ‘dear friend and his big day’ days before the actual day. God is never at the centre, and no wonder his glory is never revealed nor exulted by birthdays. Instead of God being beautified and exulted because of his handy work and grace, all the beauty and joy is drawn and left to a mere man. And if you are to think about it, we were actually supposed to congratulate the parents for bringing our friend into this world, and thank them for their nurturing and maturing of our friend. The parents should get the celebration and not our friend, as if it was all his/her own doing, coming into this world and nurturing him-self! And if you are actually following this analogy, the parents are actually shadowing and mirroring God. He should get the celebration and thanks because He is the one that created you and continuously sustains you. So the common view of birthday celebrations have not just switched and dethroned the parents with the son/daughter, but ultimately they have switched and dethroned God; consequently, enthroning the son/daughter and us glorying therein.
Worshipping God in our every activity we engage in means having a right perspective of God, enthroning God as King over your entire life, and placing God at his rightful place in your life. Even in our birthday celebrations, God must be worshipped. For that to happen, he must be at the centre of our every activity because in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). God is the high thing and being that each birthday should display and put on the pedestal.
Birthdays ought to remind us that we are created and thus, belong to God. This is not a day that we are reminded how we brought ourselves into existence. But how that we were created; we were birthed into this world. Not only being reminded of us being born (or vaguely, created) by our parents, but it much more shows that we are created by God. Genesis 1, John 1:1-3, and Colossians 1:16-17 are perfect reminders for us. Not only are we to know that we have a Creator, but also that we belong to him. Paul in Acts 17 talking to the men of Athens in verses 22-28, implies that all men are creatures of God; as a result, they should seek him. So, why should they seek him? It is because they belong to him. Paul in the Colossians 1 and verse 16, the last two words says all creation God has created “for him”. So, a birthday must make us to pose and see whether we have been living in a right view of God, and if whether our lives have been right and acceptable before Him. This should help us to know that we belong to God; therefore, helping us to worship God.
In addition, birthdays ought also to remind us that God is preserving us. God is the one that is keeping and holding us. We are his creatures in his marvellous sovereign hand. We must never think that we are cleverly surviving, and luck is stumbling in just the right path upon us. We are in his sovereign hand and every breathe we take is in God’s control. This is best reflected in Colossians 1:17 and Hebrews 1:3. God by his wisdom and power upholds the universe, and this includes our very lives, and he holds us altogether well, all to the praise of his name. O, praise God all you people. Pose and wonder dear Christian at the goodness of your God. Burst in total awe, for that’s the least you can do.
Something Much Better & Greater
If we are to only stop at our physical birth celebration, there is much to lose because there is so much reality than this present world can offer. Our physical birth only ushers us into this present world, but it does not guarantee us for eternal life with God, being in the loving presence of God. Thus birthdays should cause us to reflect on God’s goodness toward us, to reflect on the brevity (shortness) of physical life here on earth, and then cause us to think more about the certain coming death and eternity, and prepare for eternity by repenting from our sins and trusting Christ for our salvation. In the words of the psalmist, birthdays should cause/teach “us to number our days so that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90).
God is inviting everyone in this world to hear his good news. Here is the good news: Since we are people created by God, we are also totally accountable to him with our every word and deed (2 Corinthians 5:10). And like every boss, God wants everyone to be obedient to him and do everything that He says must be done. Everything must be done perfectly, and nothing must be broken; otherwise breaking one of his laws would mean you are not qualified (Matthias 5:48 & James 2:10-11). Sadly and realistically, no human being fulfills this (Romans 3:23). Thus, we are all totally doomed if we are to stand before him. However, not like any boss on earth, God came into the world to live his laws on our behalf, to be punished on our behalf and to reconcile us to him-self again; He did all this through Christ. He now invites us to have eternal life by accepting and entrusting our entire self in Christ (John 1:12, 3:14-16; 1 John 5:11-12). This results in you being born again. Being born not by the will of man, but you are by the will of God and by his Spirit (John 1:12-13, 3:3-8).
This above is what you must celebrate much more, for being born again does not only usher you into God’s Kingdom as a ticket does to an event, but this is a day that marks your restoration to God, that none can change or undo (John 10:27-29). This is a day when you were made into a son of God, a child of God, and no longer are you a slave but free in Christ your Lord. This is a day that brought peace between you and God, no longer are you an enemy but a friend, and he treats you as if you have never sinned before (Romans 5:1-11). It is true he treats you so, because if you are truly born again then you are clothed into the righteous/goodness of Christ. And we do not only celebrate this once a year, but for Christian, this is a daily celebration.
Dear reader, are you born again? I know that you are born physically and you have a birthday somewhere in the months of the year. However, I do not know whether you are born again, and I am really concerned about that with all my heart because this is a matter of life and death, and it concerns your eternity. I really hope that you are born again, if not, even birthday celebrations lose their meaning and significance. O come to Christ, accepting him as Savior and Lord, and you will be born again.
Although we have all fallen trap to this same problem of a low/lack of view of God regarding birthdays, there is still some hope. We serve a God who is faithful and just to forgive us for all our sins and ignorance, and he can cleanse us from such unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). So may we humble ourselves before God, accept our ignorance, repent, and rightly serve God. God willing your birthday is coming soon, or for someone you know, are you going to celebrate it differently and rightly approach God regarding it? For the sake of God’s glory, I hope you will. But I also hope that you are born again because this birthday is just a shadow to the spiritual reality. Physical birth ushers us into this world, and being born again ushers us into God’s eternal Kingdom. Thus, birthdays should cause us to reflect on God’s goodness toward us, to reflect on the shortness of physical life here on earth, and then cause us to think more about the certain coming death (your death) and eternity and prepare for that eternity. This will help us to celebrate our birthdays rightly, and to use birthdays and other events and all aspects of our lives for God’s glory as we are waiting for the blessed return of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.