Most of us seem to love birthdays even though some of us try to disclose our growing age. Some people, of course, try to ignore their special day or put it down as unimportant. For me, being showered with cards, presents, phone calls and kind friends around that do lovely things to make one feel special makes an ordinary day very amazing. I had one of these extraordinary days on my birthday this year and I felt so loved. Having my dear Mum with me who gave me birth was such a privilege. I’ve taken to giving her more hugs these days just like she must have done for me when I was exceedingly little – a wee thing who needed sun ray treatment to get stronger as a young child!
As much as I love birthdays and making surprises for others on their big occasions, we can actually enjoy two birthdays each year – a physical birthday and a spiritual birthday. Nicodemus was a Pharisee and part of the Sanhedrin which was a very important Jewish council. He obviously wasn’t satisfied with his Jewish faith and came to Jesus by night to talk with him. He discovered, as many Jewish leaders are finding, that it is possible to be born again from above. When a person realises that their life falls short of God’s standard (in fact all of us are in this category) then they can admit this and come to God for forgiveness, then God, via His Holy Spirit, comes to dwell in a person and that person becomes born again. This is really the process that makes a person a Christian. Then, the Holy Spirit comes and dwells forever inside and changes a person from within so that their outward life becomes different – more like Jesus. I’ve done this and I have another birthday in a different month to the one I was born in physically.
Sometimes, especially in the UK, we can get a bit enmeshed with tradition and religiousness which is not what being a Christian is all about. Our children need to know that God wants them to have a second birthday. Somehow, with all the technology and games that children are involved with these days, communicating with them about this special day that they can also have seems to go on the back burner or we adult Christians don’t know quite how to express to children the fantastic news that they can have a new life that starts on the inside with the Holy Spirit operating in them. I can remember as a teenager, I was so aware of wrongdoing in my life but didn’t know what to do about it. It was only when I was 17 years old at a youth camp that I was told that Jesus was knocking on my life’s door and wanted to come and live in me. “If anyone hears My voice,” said Jesus “and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20). Because Jesus has now gone back to heaven, he sends his Holy Spirit to live in us after God knocks at our heart’s door and we respond.
Both types of birthdays are days when something very significant is recognised and celebrated. What child wouldn’t want 2 birthdays to have a party in – yet we don’t tell them that a second birthday is available to them so they are missing out!