Some of my favorite worship services are those that include baptisms. Through the water of baptism, “God reminds and assures us of our union with Christ in covenant love, the washing away of our sin, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Everyone who is baptized – regardless of denomination or tradition, regardless of the language or culture – is united in Christ. As someone who was baptized, my primary identity comes from knowing that, together with the rest of God’s people, I am united to and belong to Jesus.
That means for those of us who are baptized, we find our identity in Christ even before we see ourselves as…
- a daughter or son, father or mother, husband or wife
- a banker, farmer, mechanic, nurse, salesperson, teacher, or truck driver
- straight, gay, bi, or other
- wealthy, middle class, or poor
- American, Canadian, Chinese, Dutch, First Nations, Guatemalan, Mexican, Native American, Romanian, or Venezuelan
- a Democrat or a Republican; or a Conservative, Green, Liberal, NDP, or Bloc Québécois supporter
- a member of the NRA or the ACLU.
Baptism welcomes us into God’s family and makes us citizens of His Kingdom before we identify with or pledge any other allegiance.
As a male, I personally have more in common with a woman who is among God’s people than I do with another guy who is outside the faith. If you are a Kingdom-minded blue collar worker, you have more in common with a professional in a suit submitting to Christ’s rule than you do with a guy in grease-stained coveralls outside the Kingdom. If you are a straight person who loves Jesus, you have more in common with a gay person who professes Jesus than you do with a husband and wife who profess nothing. If you are an American who follows Jesus, you have more in common with a Palestinian or Iraqi Christian than you do with a fellow American who does not yet know Jesus. If you are a Republican who loves Jesus, you have more in common with a Democrat who dedicates their life to Jesus than another Republican who does not yet live for the Lord.
Author Lee C. Camp writes: “There is, for those who have been clothed with Christ in baptism, a new identity, an identity that transcends economic class, ethnic grouping, and citizenship.”
In these divisive times, I especially need to touch, see, and hear the water of baptism to remind me that more fundamental to anything that divides me from other believers is the foundational union I have with Christ and with one another.
This repeats some things I said Sunday evening at Trinity CRC.
It’s also what I contributed to the Perspectives column
in this week’s Rock Valley Bee, in which I noted I’d like
the date of my baptism included in my obituary some day.