We celebrated a couple of baptisms today at Highland. This picture is of the Glawes, and son AJ in the background. It is exciting to see a husband and wife make a declararion of their desire to identify with and follow Jesus. And what a great memory created in the mind of AJ as he watched his parents give this outward expression of their inward reality.
I recently found a great quote on baptism from Robert Webber in Ancient Future Faith and included it with my teaching on baptism during the service:
“A symbol participates in the reality which it represents. Water is an ordinary element of creation that participates in the extraordinary . . . When we enter into the waters of baptism, we enter into a divine connection with the suffering of Jesus and with his resurrection. We are brought into a pattern of life that is an actual identification with Jesus. Baptism is therefore not only an identification with Christ but a calling to live the baptized life.”
I taught about baptism from Romans 6:1-11 and, in my study of this passage, I thought about the aspect of “new life” that I usually pass by with familiarity. I usually think only of the eternal aspect of the resurrected life we have from Jesus, but this week I thought more about how Jesus intends for us to live this new life (what I have referred to as the “Jesus Life” in the sermon series I have done on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount). Jesus intended for his followers to live this new radical life while on this earth; to be about His kingdom work while here. The “baptized life” as Webber calls it, is new and revolutionary and counter-culture. It is focused on loving God and loving neighbor, not just sitting around waiting for the hereafter aspect of life.
I am afraid that I have not emphasized enough the temporal aspect of new life with my baptism candidates in the past, focusing mainly on the eternal. My tendency(by neglect and not on purpose) in the past has been to allow my teaching and practice of baptism to point mainly to life after death rather than life here on this planet; the life God has given us to lead for Him in practical ways. If we truly identify with Christ, we will strive, with cross intact, to make a difference in this life, living the “baptized life.”
What does this “baptized life” look like? I covered characteristics of this life in my Jesus Life series, taken from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and there is obviously a lot to this answer (Jesus summarized it with “love your neighbor). I believe we will know it is showing up when we are loving our neighbors unconditionally, loving our enemies, making peace where there is war/conflict, giving mercy where there is suffering and pain, seeking justice where there is none, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, etc.
The eternal aspect of our new life is important and indeed something to celebrate, but we live wasted lives and misunderstand Jesus’ Gospel if we are, as someone once said, “so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good.”
Today was a great day as we celebrated the baptism of two people committed to following Jesus. Their baptism is not only a symbol and declaration, but a reminder to us all to live this new life Jesus has modeled and provided.