MONDAY MEDITATION: A Different Angle on Baptism (October 24)

When Jesus was baptized, he immediately came up out of the water. Heaven was opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and resting on him…The the Spirit led Jesus up into the wilderness so that the devil might tempt him. — Matthew 3:16, 4:1

There’s a popular belief that baptism is about personal salvation. As one country song puts it,

Baptize me in that muddy water
Wash me clean in amazing grace
I ain’t been living like I aughta
Baptize me in that muddy water

While this gets to the point about baptism being a sign of repentance and starting a new life, it also obscures what else baptism is.

What happened after Jesus was baptized? His family didn’t take him to a buffet and celebrate. Rather, the Spirit drove him into the wilderness to confront the devil.

Baptism isn’t just being saved. Baptism is being commissioned to fight the evil we’ve been saved from. It is indeed confronting evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves, as the baptismal vow goes.

Remembering that baptism isn’t about us but about what God wants to accomplish through us should give us cause to pause. How does my lifestyle reflect my commissioning? Do I sometimes condone the very forces I should be fighting against?

Baptism, in other words, calls us to continually examine our lives and reaffirm our commitment to active duty.

After the christening of his baby brother in church, Bobby sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, the boy blurted out, “That preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, but I want to stay with you guys.”

May you and I be vigilant in remembering our baptismal vows and honoring them.


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