At every birth, a royal baby

By Savi Hensman
May 3, 2015

There has been extensive media coverage of the birth of a daughter to the Duchess and Duke of Cambridge. Yet, from a biblical perspective, a royal baby being born (or a new member of a president’s ‘first family’) is not that uncommon.

All humans are made in the image of God, Genesis indicates (Genesis 1.26-27), who is frequently portrayed as ruler of the earth (Psalm 47.7-8). Ephesians proclaims “one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4.6).

The divine likeness may be obscured by the greed, violence and selfishness which blight the world. Yet Jesus is portrayed as inviting everyone to be part of a different kind of realm, where love, mercy, justice and peace abound.

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven”, he says in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). An epistle describes Christ’s followers as a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2.9).

Admittedly the understanding of ‘glory’ that surrounds this ‘royal family’ is very different from the glamour and privilege that usually surrounds dignitaries and their households. Being glorified involves suffering and dying for others (John 12.23-26).

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”, Jesus tells his followers (Matthew 20.24-28 Revised Standard Version).

In this worldview, to honour God – described in Psalm 68 as the “Father of orphans” – involves especial respect and concern for the poor and marginalised.

“Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?” writes James to those who show favouritism to the privileged. “Is it not the rich who oppress you?... You do well if you really fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ But if you show partiality, you commit sin” (James 2.1-9).

In Matthew 25, when the King comes in glory to judge the nations, some are invited to “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me... just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Many of all faiths and none seek a world where all babies are guaranteed food, clothing, shelter, medical care, love and protection. To achieve this may require a transformation of thought and practice, so that every birth is seen as royal.

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© Savitri Hensman is a widely published Christian commentator on politics, welfare, religion and more. An Ekklesia associate, she works in the equalities and care sector.

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