My wife is seven months pregnant, and we’re getting into that phase of pregnancy where something as simple as moving around can be challenging for her. I have no idea what she’s going through, and this pregnancy is showing me that I’m similarly incapable of understanding God’s work in saving us.
Jesus said, “You must be born again” (John 3:7), and the metaphor takes on new meaning when you watch a woman bring a baby to full term. Think about it:
- A baby doesn’t do any of the work in creating his or her new life.
- A baby’s full development is a process that takes time and puts the burden on the one carrying the baby.
- A baby’s awareness of what’s going on during his or her development is minimal.
In the same way, we can’t do anything to help Jesus complete our salvation — He already finished that work on the cross. Moreover, the process of our spiritual birth takes time, and to the degree it puts a burden on anyone, it’s on the Holy Spirit, our full-time parent, teacher, counselor, and advocate. And as much as we wish we understood this process, we’re clueless. We’re just curled up in the warmth of God’s love as we’re fed and carried around until the day we’re delivered into His arms.
People read these kinds of thoughts and wonder if I’m taking the metaphor too far. They’re convinced salvation takes some work on our part, so they often bring up the fact that the Bible says, “[W]ork out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phillipians 2:12). They forget the rest of that verse, which says, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phillipians 2:13) (emphasis added). That is, God is the one doing the heavy lifting.
I’m not saying that salvation or child-bearing are effortless processes. I just think we all need to keep in mind that babies aren’t the ones making the effort that really counts.