Today I wanted to jump past the NO SWIMMING sign into the river, no matter how far I would drift downstream. I stayed on the boating dock, but did not linger by the swirls and eddies too long. The water looked so refreshing, energetic, and cool. I wonder if baptism should be pictured the same way…we jump into a river and have no idea where it will carry us.
Jesus commanded His disciples to carry news of His kingdom and authority around the world (Matthew 28), and baptize people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Everyone was included in this offer to join God’s kingdom. And in Acts, that’s just what started happening. At Pentecost (Acts 2), 3,000 were baptized into the church. They identified with Christ as Lord and gave their allegiance to Him. In Acts 8, an Ethiopian joined the ranks, a Roman Centurion’s household in Acts 10, a jailer (of all people!) in Acts 16 along with all his family, and those who had been baptized by John but had not trusted in Christ as their Savior in Acts 19 – people of all races, occupations, and education were equally accepted in Christ!
Paul explained in many of his letters to the churches that baptism was not just washing off a little dirt; it is symbolically dying to your sins like Christ died on the cross. And we are raised out of the water to a new way of living. It does not change the core of who God made us, but it re-orients our focus to how He made us to live (see Romans 6, Galatians 3, Colossians 2). Peter explains it in 1 Peter 3 that just like God used a flood at the time of Noah to cleanse the earth, baptism symbolizes how He makes us new – same function, changed way of living.
There are many disagreements about how young people should be baptized, who makes the decision, and how it is performed. But in the end, Baptism is the great equalizer. Everyone is equally dead to their old way of living and called to a new life in Christ. That is the same for all believers no matter their country, denomination, age, or theological knowledge.No one comes out of the water quite the same.
God, thank You for baptism. It shows how we’re refreshed, revitalized, remade in Christ. Thank You for a physical picture of a spiritual truth. Please help me continue to learn what it means to die to the lifestyle of the world and live for You. To You be the glory. Amen.