Symbols are so common in our world, that we often don't think of them as symbols. We more commonly call them logos. Company logos. Team logos. Cause logos. We post them on our social media. We drive them around. We wear them on our clothes. Sometimes the logos we represent reflect what happened to be on sale or what I happened to put on that day. Other times, though, these symbols represent an allegiance - a loyalty - a powerful commitment to that one before all others. For some of us, that loyalty may be to the sports team we cheer for. For others, that loyalty is represented by the truck we drive. For others, it is the athletic shoes we wear.
Using symbols to represent loyalty is an ancient practice. Symbols, both visual and practiced, have been a part of the world for as long as we have been recording history. And symbols have been a part of the church since its very beginning. Most of us are familiar with the strange symbol of the cross - an ancient torture and execution device - becoming a symbol for Christians who embraced the self-sacrifice and humility of Jesus as their way of living. Many of us are familiar with the ichthys (a Greek letter which we see as "the Jesus fish"), which served as an acronym for a Greek phrase which translates into, "Jesus Christ Son of God, Saviour."
But the most powerful symbols of Christianity are not merely visual. They are enacted. And that is because Christianity is only real when it is lived out and practiced. From the earliest days of the church, those two symbols have been the Eucharist/Communion/Lord's supper (a communal meal remembering Jesus sacrifice for us) and Baptism (a symbol of entering into the family of Jesus, the church). Because of their importance, both of these symbols of Christian unity have had a lot of conflict around them. Discussing that is for another time and space. For now, I want to invite you to consider baptism if you have not been baptized as a believer before.
Why should I think about Baptism as a believer?
- Baptism is a public symbol that someone willingly and actively identifies with Jesus. The early church practiced immersion baptism (where someone went completely under the water) to symbolize that our old selves are dead and we are resurrected in Christ . . . identifying with Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection.
- Baptism is a way of identifying with Jesus' family. Coming out of the water represents new birth into a new family. In the early church, it was the initiation rite that welcomed people into the church community. They didn't conceive of, in the first centuries of the church, a Christian who had not been baptized as a believer. (Because baptism was the way of identifying with the Jesus family, that led people to begin baptising infants. But that baptism of infants came a good bit later.)
- Baptism is an opportunity to honour the people and events which have led to your own faith in Jesus while letting everyone know that the faith you have is your own. You have chosen to enter into this life with Jesus!
On April 21 - Easter Sunday - we are going to have our baptismal tank at the church full (and warmed up!) and would love to celebrate Resurrection Sunday with baptisms. Send Pastor Jon a message ([email protected]) or give him a call (705-549-8477) if you would like to talk about baptism, if you have questions about it, or if you are interested in taking this step of publically letting everyone know that you are a Jesus follower!