Thursday, May 28, 2009

Taking the Plunge

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

You won’t find this familiar saying anywhere in the Bible. But many people think it’s the Gospel truth. We start or end most days with a hot shower or bath. We stock our bathrooms with antibacterial soaps. And we buy costly laundry detergents and bleaches promising brilliant whites and vivid colors. It all adds up to a soap and detergent industry involving about 700 companies with combined annual revenues of billions of dollars.

Our desire to stay clean seems to be hard-wired into our DNA. But this intense longing covers much more than our face and hands. We also want to be just as clean on the inside. That means a clean heart and a clean conscience. And we so much want a clean start.

That’s where baptism comes in: that public demonstration of faith that one has turned his or her back on their past, renounced their sins and been re-born into a new life through faith in Jesus. The Apostle Paul paints baptism as a wondrous portrait of death and resurrection; one where the old ways have perished and a brilliant future has begun:

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

So what about you? If you could, would you turn back the clock and start your life over again? It sounds like a fantasy, but there really is a way. The saying goes that this new beginning is only a few inches away; it’s that short distance from your heart to your head. The first step on the journey is to realize that you – just like everyone on Earth – has failed to live up to God’s standards and expectations. The next is to trust in Jesus to save you from the penalty we all deserve – eternal death and separation from God. That’s because Christ is the One Who has already paid our way into God’s kingdom by dying for all the past, present and future wrongs we’ve committed in our lifetime. His is a free gift of immense cost. But like any gift, it’s of little use if we don’t accept it.

And then it’s time to (literally) take the plunge into a new life through baptism. Let’s look again toward Jesus as our example. Although He lived a perfect, spotless life with no sins of His own to be forgiven, Christ still demanded this symbolic re-birth and cleansing for Himself – as well as His followers in the centuries to follow.

"This is my Son, whom I love,” a voice from heaven said as Jesus arose from His baptism in the Jordan River. “With Him I am well pleased."

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