Bill and I were sitting around just tonight looking through some old photos. My aunt has been collecting them since my grandmother passed away and recently I asked her if she a particular photo I’d been looking for. To my surprise, not only did she have that photo but handfuls more that I hadn’t even seen before. This week I finally took the time to put them in a photo album.
Many of the pictures in the front of the album are very old.
- Pictures of my great, great, great grandfather on a horse drawn wagon.
- Many of my grandma and grandpa when they were young and making a life on their family farm…where I grew up as well.
- Pictures of my dad at his 12th birthday party.
These pictures connect me with my history. They give context to my place in the world. We often don’t think about it, but baptism is another way where we find our context in the world and in history. Let’s take a quick walk down the path of what baptism is and what it isn’t.
Baptism isn’t magic.
I’m not aware that there is any water in the world that possesses any magical powers. Although the folks down in Lynchburg might disagree. The only thing that getting immersed, sprinkled, or poured is that it gets you wet.
Baptism is instead the action symbolizes.
- Baptism is simply a public statement of an internal decision.
This is the internal decision: I’ve decided to connect my life to God through what Christ has done on my behalf. Like a wedding ring…it is an outward symbol of a decision we’ve made previously. Baptism is simply a public statement that I’m committed to God and God is committed to me…and we’re letting the world know.
- Baptism provides the historical context were I can live out my faith.
It looks like this: the roots of baptism stretch back prior to Christianity into Jewish life. The practice of cereominal washing (or mikvah) observant Hebrews would undergo a mikvah at different times so they could enter the presence of God.
- We recognize the someone else has undergone an immersion into death and rose from that immersion into a resurrection.
- Think of Jesus baptism in the New Testament. At this point in history baptism as we know it didn’t exist and even John the Baptist says why would you do this? You see, Jesus was good Hebrew – OK – He was the BEST Hebrew and He knew the value of the Mikvah. Here’s His reply:
“But Jesus insisted. “Do it. God’s work, putting things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism.” So John did it.” Matthew 3:15
Later in Colossians 2:12 Paul has this to say about baptism: “Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as He did Christ. When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean…”
- When we are baptized, we are symbolically joining Jesus in the work that He has done.
The context comes from this…for thousands of years, for every culture, at every point of the globe…people have proclaimed their connection to God through Jesus in Baptism. Think about it in another way…every day at some point of the globe, people are being baptized. There’s one going on this very moment. When we are baptized we are joining in with the billions of Christ followers who have publicly connected their life to His.
- When I look at this photo album, it reminds me of who I belong to. And by sharing these photos with you I’m letting you know who I belong to.
- In baptism we make it very clear who we belong to, and by being baptized we’re letting the world know who we belong to and who are are connected to throughout the course of history.
If you’ve never been baptized as an adult, we’re having a baptism on November 8 and we’d love for you be part of it. I can talk more with you about it, or you can talk to a staff member. There will be informational meetings coming up soon. If you’ve never been baptized as an adult, I’d highly recommend you to take this next step in your spiritual growth.
Speaking of spiritual growth…it’s time to go to class. We’ll pick up another “What Did Jesus Say” topic next week. You’ll have to come back to hear what it is.