In a few weeks, on October 11th, Dayspring Community Church will be celebrating the work and grace of God at work in peoples’ lives through baptism. It marks a day when those whose journeys have led them through many “dangers, toils, and snares” publicly share of the grace of Christ in their lives. But for some, we might not know what baptism means? As we prepare for baptism in the next couple weeks I want to take some time to talk about what baptism means and why we do it.
In our Nazarene tradition we often say that baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace but beyond this description baptism means so much more. As a sign, baptism first reveals the grace that has been at work in us giving us a new identity. Baptism doesn’t save us but it is the sign that we have been saved by God’s grace. Forgiven are the sins of the past and in their place is a new life lived in the power of Christ. As Paul remarked, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
With a new identity taking shape in us we find that we are also welcomed into a new family called the church or the body of Christ. Paul points this out twice in his letters saying,
For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (1 Cor. 12:13)
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female,for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28)
This is an incredible event! Baptism marks the time when our new life means we are part of a new family; a family where there are no social, racial, or cultural barriers. Baptism marks the day when we become something together that we can not become on our own. Christ tears down any walls we build in our society and creates in us and through us His Church.
All of this is worth celebrating! The change that has taken place from who we were to who we are becoming is staggering. Every life in which sin has been conquered is a worth celebrating. As a celebration, baptism reminds us of the greater reality of God’s redeeming love at work in His creation. God is making all things new! While the spring flowers remind us this love at work in nature, baptism reminds us that this love is at work in people too.
Next week we’ll look at why we celebrate baptism but for now I’d love to hear from you if you’re considering baptism. Send me an email with your questions or to become a part of our celebration!