As I write, there is much anticipation in the world. Some are anticipating sports, while others are anticipating a church service. Some are anticipating the start of a holiday week, while others are anticipating the arrival of family and friends. Some are anticipating the start of their journey with Christ, while others are anticipating life without someone at the end of their journey. And I am praying for them all. Today I baptize my youngest son. All of his grandparents will be there. I’ve held all four of my boys as they took their first breaths, and I will now say I have held them all as they took their first steps with Jesus. It’s a great feeling. But I also anticipate that it is merely the start of the journey.
Baptism isn’t the end all. It’s the start of. I’ve seen many anticipate it like the act of Baptism itself is the act that is going to change everything. Baptism won’t “fix” you. It’s giving your life to Jesus, recognizing you WILL make mistakes, and that you (like me) need to grow. Baptism is about regeneration. It is the crucifixion of one’s self, burial and resurrection in Christ. Becoming New. And, as with any infant, there will need to be growth and maturity. The Act of Baptism is a reenactment of the Gospel itself, that Jesus died, was buried and rose again, conquering our sin and death with His own body, and giving us hope and new life in His resurrection. And it’s about that new life, both what we live now, and in the time to come when we will be perfected in His presence. So let us walk in a way that honors Christ Jesus. Let us continue in His grace and mercy, so that He will draw others to Himself, and begin the process, again and again, in others.
2 Corinthians 5:11-21
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.