Baptism is Freedom
This past Sunday, we continued our celebration of the resurrection of Easter with a joyous service of baptisms. Three members of the NCF community—Anna, Patrick, and Theo—were baptized after they shared part of their personal testimonies and Renée shared a teaching about the meaning of baptism. An excerpt of that teaching follows. (You can listen to Renée’s entire teaching here.)
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… Baptism is an extension of the truth of Easter—that our understanding of death and resurrection is forever changed by God raising Jesus from the dead. No longer is death the end for our physical bodies, for God will raise these up anew and eternal. Rather, in baptism the sin that has held power over us is buried and we are raised to a new life that begins now. Baptism is accepting the eternal life that God offers through Jesus and starting to live into that new identity as children of God in the here and now. As Paul explains in Romans 6:
Or don’t you know that all who were baptized into Jesus the Messiah were baptized into his death? Therefore, we were buried together with him through baptism into his death, so that just as the Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too can walk in newness of life. If we were united together in a death like his, we will also be united together in a resurrection like his. This is what we know: the person that we used to be was crucified with him in order to get rid of the corpse that had been controlled by sin. That way we wouldn’t be slaves to sin anymore, because a person who has died has been freed from sin’s power. But if we died with Jesus the Messiah, we have faith that we will also live with him. We know that the Messiah has been raised from the dead and he will never die again. Death no longer has power over him. He died to sin once and for all with his death, but he lives for God with his life. In the same way, you also should consider yourselves dead to sin but alive for God in Jesus the Messiah. Romans 6:3-11
This is freedom. Being freed from the power of sin. We understand sin to hold us captive on multiple levels. There is the individual sin that we long to be freed from, where as Paul says in the next chapter of Romans, the good we long to do we don’t do, and the evil we don’t want to do we do. But we also understand sin to be the power of institutions and social systems that hold people captive. Sin separates us from God and divides us from each other.
Baptism is not just transformation for the individual, but for the community. As a fellowship of the baptized, we are called to be living into our new identity that is set free from the sinful systems of the world. The transformation of baptism is for the individual to begin living eternal life now and for the church to begin living into the kingdom of God now.