Saturday, February 12, 2011

Why be baptized?

So... why would you bother to be baptized?  For those who believe in Jesus, this is not an option.  All through the book of Acts there are stories of people who first come to believe in Jesus, and their first response is always to be baptized.  It is a sign of cleansing and forgiveness of sins.  It is a sign of belonging to God through Jesus Christ.

However, this presumes that you believe in Jesus.  Let's say that you're not yet there.  Where does faith in Jesus even begin?  Ultimately, it is a gift of God.  However, that might not help you when you're still trying to sort things out.  So let's try going back to the beginning.

Biblically speaking, the story begins with God, who creates the heavens and the earth.  While God created all things good, there is a problem.  Human beings, having been given the freedom to make choices, decided that they wanted themselves to be in charge rather than God.  They became self-centred rather than God-centred, and soon things were no longer as God intended them to be.  Rather than living in love for God and for one another (the original plan), people turned in on themselves and became incapable of real love.  Because of this turning away from God, death entered the picture and became the ending that we could expect.

However, God was not content with this ending for us, and acted in order to enable us to live in love once again.  God's solution came in the form of Jesus, who lived the life that we would never be able to, and died the death that we would never want to.  Because of Jesus' perfect life of love, he broke the power that sin has over us (self-centred lives).  Because of Jesus' death and subsequent resurrection, he broke the power that death has over us.  Now, all those who are united with Jesus through baptism share in his perfect life and his death and resurrection.  Sometimes it is called the "great exchange." God takes our sinfulness and places it on Jesus, and then takes Jesus' perfect life and places it on us.  As well, because of Jesus, death is no longer the end of the story, but has become a gateway into the life to come, where love reigns in all its perfection.

Because we are still human, we don't manage to live in perfect love for God and for one another while we're still on this earth.  However, because Jesus sent his Spirit after he physically left this earth, we are able to at least start to grow into the life that God intended for us -- through the power of the Holy Spirit.  And then, in the future, we will live in the presence of God and in the perfect love that God always intended for us.

So... what questions does all of this raise for you?  What is holding you back from being baptized?  What does or does not make sense to you?  Your comments are welcome!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How to begin?

More and more adults have never been baptized, and many of these same people lead hectic lives and would never be able to come to classes (at least not all at the same time....).  This is my attempt to begin a conversation, and to invite those who have not been baptized to ask questions and to do some serious thinking about it.  The most important question that I would ask anybody who is contemplating Christian baptism is this:  Do you believe in Jesus Christ? (Saviour and Son of God)

However, for many people this question also requires backing up and asking, do you know enough about Jesus to be able to answer this question?  And so, my next post will probably be something along the lines of "the basic message about Jesus" -- unless, of course, I discover that all of you are past that....