James 1:18 “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”
God chose to make us alive spiritually. He gave us the new life of faith. Here’s a thought with Mother’s Day approaching: God giving us the new life of faith was like a mother giving birth. Who does all the work, all the sweat? Certainly not the baby. It gets squeezed, and pushed, but it’s not actively involved one way or another. No one gives the baby a high five after delivery and congratulates it: “Good job, junior! Nice arrival! You showed up well.” Mom is the one who gets all the hugs, all the kisses, all the credit, because she did all the work.
God chose to birth a spiritual life in us, and it involved its own kind of spiritual labor pains. James says God gave the gift of spiritual birth “through the word of truth.” And what word was that? What did that word say? It wasn’t a reasonable list of evidences for the existence of God. It wasn’t an abstract discussion of the nature and characteristics of God.
It was the word that showed you his love. It is the word that revealed that in order to save you, God traded his home in heaven for the slums of earth. He traded his glory and power for a weak human body, and he became the man named Jesus. He traded his holiness for your sin. He traded his life for your death. He traded his respect and praise for your shame and punishment. He traded his throne for a cross, and a stone slab in a cold tomb. He sweated and suffered and died over all this labor and sacrifice to save you and me, because that’s how much he loves you and me.
This word, this news, this love was the one thing powerful enough to land on the cold, barren planet that was my heart. Where there was no atmosphere, no sunshine, no water–none of the requirements for life spiritually speaking–this was the one thing that could miraculously establish the spiritual life of faith where no life had ever existed before.
Why? Just for the pride of being able to say he could do the impossible? No, “that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” You know what firstfruits are? They are the first part of the harvest, the first thing to come off the trees or out of the field. They aren’t only first in time, but God generally considered them first in quality and first in desirability. In the Old Testament he required that the people of Israel give him the firstfruits of their harvests in recognition of the fact that he had supplied the harvest in the first place.
In the New Testament God doesn’t want fruits or grains. He wants you to be his own. You are the one thing he desires. You are the one thing he regards above everything else he has made. You are the one thing he values more than anything in the world.
You want to know that God loves you, and that he has only your good in mind, when your life is up and down, and you see suffering you can’t explain? This is where you look, where he has made himself clear. Not at all the hard to interpret experiences of life in a complex and broken world that frankly is too big and too lost for our puny brains to comprehend. This is where you look. God’s proof lies in the gift of our new life and all the loving sacrifices he gave to make it happen.