Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Great Mystery

In too many places baptism has become too much about community ritual.  In the mind of many, it marks people as decent good folks who are trying to live a Christian life.  And for many of our ecclesiastical institutions, it becomes a kind of litmus test for membership and participation.  And while there are some who declare that baptism is required for entrance into heaven, it is not viewed near that significantly in most places.  The truth is in some of those other places, it hardly matters at all.
Reading through the book of Romans can certainly give the reader a different view.  In the early part of the 6th chapter of that epistle, the Apostle Paul likens baptism and the death of Jesus.  As we look again at what the Word of God says, we hear these words, "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore, we have been buried with Him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:3-4)  To ponder over these Words is to realize that there is a great mystery staring us in the face.  It is a Word that takes our mundane thoughts about baptism to an entirely different level.
As we are baptized, as we go under the water (a hard visualization for those of us pre-disposed to baptism by sprinkling), we come out from under not as we were when we went under it.  Before we were sinners, and afterwards, we are this new creation.  The thought is that as Christ went under death and came up from it in a manner befitting of heavenly glory, so do we as we are baptized.  As we never could before, we are after baptism enabled to walk in newness of life.  We may say it is all just symbolic, but is it not true that our actions of expressing faith in Christ are those actions which have eternal consequences?

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