Watered Down Symbol

14 Sep

Good morning,

Have you ever thought of the fact that there is not a record of Jesus baptizing anyone, and yet it is a sacrament (holy rite) of most Christian churches.  There have been long and heated discussions about baptism over the centuries.  As United Methodist we baptize the way the Episcopal Church (Church of England) does and they baptize the way the Catholic Church does.  For all the division that have occurred in the Christian church there are many things that remain the same.

So, as a United Methodist, I am almost always baptizing an infant with a little water on the head.  I often believe that the deep in the parents hearts it is their insurance policy for their child that they will not go to hell (a very Catholic belief), even if they won’t admit to this as a motivating factor.  It is a kind of “cover all the bases” ritual.

Paul’s words in the beginning of the 6th chapter of Romans is so much more powerful than our watered down version of baptism.  In The Message it is even more wonderful.

1-3 So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!

3-5 That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.

Probably walking into a river fully clothed, lower under the water by an officiant, and being raised up will not make baptism the powerful symbol is could be. (Actually I have done the whole ‘river thing’ when I was 20.) But, at least educating ourselves on this image of baptism and letting it seep into our souls would be a good thing.

6-11 Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.

Paul’s words are powerful.  For those of us who have been baptized in whatever way, our old lives are nailed to the cross with Christ and we have a resurrection life to live.  I believe God intention was to set us free from the deadness of sin and give us a relationship with the Divine Presence that bring the power of a liberated life.  How often I talk with people, Christians, who are trapped by old pain, old hurt, old disappointment; not seeing the truth of baptism or the resurrection life that is theirs for the living.

I have found that much, almost all, of my Christian life becomes a ‘mental activity.’  By understanding the powerful symbols of our faith we can step out into a new life, a new world; our for the living.  Even though our minds cannot grasp the full of the Divine, we can understand the nature of the relationship of new life offered to us; let is seep into our souls and live in a way that bring glory to Eternal creator.

If you are a Christian living with the old ‘sin life’ then you are denying the incredible transformation being of Christ, so sure as Peter deny Jesus around the campfire the night before his death.

I know I get preachy, but the gift that has been offered to this world is too important, too incredible to be watered down by our religious institutions, but our tired and small minds.

Imagine the possibilities, talk with God, walk the way of Christ, enjoy this moment of eternal life.  Peace


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