Why do we make such a big deal about the water?
Some dear new friends of ours were baptized in the Tennessee River today, a young couple both newly enthralled by God’s grace. It was a beautiful day. More like early fall than early June. They invited friends with kids and asked our pastor to do the ceremony. We gathered near a place where they could step just off the shore into hip deep water. I had glimpses of the Jordan River as I remember it from our study time there. I could picture them standing there. I enjoy baptisms and this one was extra special.
When Paul tells us so clearly that the action God completed in the wake of our faith is to place us into Christ Jesus (Romans 6.3), why do we quibble over whether sprinkling, effusion or immersion is more appropriate as a symbolic way of affirming our new relationship with Him? How wet we get has nothing to do with the nature of our new lives does it?
Surely it is about what it means to be in Christ rather than how much water was required to perform the ritual of baptism. The baptism that counts is the one accomplished by God when He puts us into Christ Jesus the living water. All the benefits of reconciliation and justification and being alive come from our position in Him. And in Him it’s not merely our heads or even our bodies that receive the washing of baptism. In the Living Water our entire beings are shocked awake permanently never to be the same again.
Oh I have my preference about the mode of water baptism. Yet even immersion fails to fully capture the radical nature of what it means to be thrust into the Living God. All the modes are good as far as the purpose they serve. But the point is what they represent, the real thing. The real thing is the new creation (Galatians 6.15).
That’s why I love baptisms.