Washing us clean

This past Sunday was baptism, and it’s become my favorite service.  I didn’t say the most important for us, just my personal favorite and the one I get the most excited about.

Luke 15:4-7  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

The day is one where we get to rejoice with heaven over the one that is brought back into the fold.  Not to just be happy, but to rejoice!  It’s also important to know that the one who was lost was always a part of the flock, but strayed on their own despite a watchful shepherd who dropped everything to pursue the one.  It’s easy to believe that we’ve been separated, or that we were never a part of the bigger group but we all are.  We are born into sonship, nothing we did or will do can ever earn that for us and there’s no membership fee.  What happens after that is up to us.  We’re born pure and without sin, and we’re called from day one to be a part of the kingdom of Heaven.  Our parents want that for us, and so many of us were baptized as infants.  It’s important to have our parents accountable for our development spiritually and to have a church community support us.

It’s a question I’ve heard, *I’ve been baptized as a child, can I be baptized as an adult and doesn’t being baptized a second time diminish it’s significance?*  Yes you can and no it doesn’t.  I so appreciated Pastor Rob’s comments during the message that adult baptism is the fulfillment of a promise made by our parents.  The act of baptism helps to undo the impact of sin and bring us into a right relationship with God.  Our willing submission to be baptized, is our acknowledgement as free-thinking adults of God.  Our acknowledgement that forgiveness through Him is possible and we can all be washed clean, even Jesus made baptism important for himself.  As Jesus says, ‘it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’

Matthew 3: 13-17  Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. But John prohibited Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?”
But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him.
And when Jesus was baptized, He came up immediately out of the water. And suddenly the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

It’s not just a symbolic act in the way so many other activities we take part in are.  It’s not purely symbolic to make a wise and informed decision to step into the baptismal waters, and emerge washed clean though obviously there is that aspect but it goes further than just that.

1 Peter 3: 21  and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.

As with everything in life, you have a choice, freely given to us by a God that adores us.  We get to choose whether we step in, if we deem ourselves ready.  God says you’re ready, so it becomes a conversation with ourselves whether to accept the gift freely given to us.  The water washes us clean and takes away our sins, our old-selves and at that point we emerge a new creation.  Returned to a right relationship with God as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

Colossians 2: 12 (you were…) buried with Him in baptism, in which also you were raised with Him through the faith of the power of God

I had the joy of encouraging one of our brothers considering baptism, and doing my best as God has equipped me to coach him through his praying and wrestling.  On Sunday I watched with overwhelming happiness and through tear-filled eyes as he openly professed his love for Jesus, accepting Him into his life.  Everyone at the service erupted, in chorus with heaven rejoicing for the safe return of the one.  Thinking back to my own baptism I’ll speak for myself and say wholeheartedly that there was nothing symbolic about that moment.  I’d also be willing to wager that God doesn’t see it as symbolic either. 

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance

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