Last night we baptized my friend Whitney at the gathering of Redemption Hill Church. Whitey's friend Tabitha helped me with the baptism. It was a sweet celebration of new life in Christ. I love baptisms. It is one of my favorite things we get to do as a church. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Baptism is a beautiful portrait of the gospel. The Good News we call the gospel is that Jesus died in our place for our sin, and was raised to life. His resurrection conquered sin and death for us so that we have the promise of true life both now and forever. It's the best news we could ever possibly hear. In baptism we are able to publicly proclaim our love for Jesus. As we are lowered into the water we are showing unity in His death, putting our sin to death. As we are raised up we are showing unity with Him in His resurrection, raised to new life now and for all of eternity with Him. It's a beautiful picture of our unity with Jesus.
- Baptism is an important marker in our journey with Christ. On an personal level, it's important to be able to look back and remember that you have publicly proclaimed your love for and unity with Jesus. At a broader level, baptism has traditionally served as an entry point into the believing community we call the Church. The Lord's Supper, or communion, then serves as the ongoing reminder of our place in God's forever family.
- Baptism is a celebration and reminder of God's grace. It's important for the whole church, not just the individual being baptized. Last night when I announced that we would baptize Whitney, the whole church erupted in cheers and applause. Because we rent a facility without a baptistry in the meeting room, we set up a tank on the side of the building and celebrate after the service. It was packed. People in the church need to hear and celebrate the stories of how God is at work in people's lives, and baptism is one of the best ways to do so.
- Baptism is a reminder of the Church's mission. It is too easy to get distracted by all of the good things we can do in the life of a church while losing focus on the most important thing. It's too easy to get comfortable and turn inward. Baptism reminds us that we are surrounded by lost people every day, everywhere we go. God is actively pouring out His Spirit to draw men and women to Himself through Jesus Christ and He has invited us to be used by Him in His work. Tabitha led her friend Whitney to Christ. She was used by God to save her friend and got to be part of baptizing her in celebration. What a great reminder to the church of the most important work of which we can be a part.
Please take a few minutes to watch Whitney's story here:
[vimeo 92474657 w=500 h=281]