Editors note: This blog post was originally published December 15, 2014 on my former blog Road to Twenty-Something.
Baptism, that weird thing Christians do with water and people and rivers sometimes subbed by hot tubs, isn’t necessary for eternal life.
It’s not a requirement. It’s not an obligation. It’s a choice, and a killer one at that.
Baptism is a pretty rad way to declare your belief in eternal life and symbolically proclaim a spiritual transformation.
But, as awesome as this is, I need to make a few things clear.
In the last week and half, I’ve seen 45 people take part in baptisms. I’ve seen 45 people say Jesus is a pretty big deal to them. That’s a super sweet thing.
Eighteen people were completely submerged by Resonate Church pastors in a tub full of water at the Nuart Theater in Moscow, Idaho last night.
Twenty seven experienced the same plunge last Sunday in Pullman, Washington.
There was nothing special about the water. It poured from a dirty tap spout for a day and a half. There is nothing special about the church. It’s a collegiate institution of worship managed by flawed human beings.
There is nothing special about the building. It’s a vintage structure I’m honestly surprised is still standing. There was nothing special about the people being dunked. Believe it or not, they’re just as flawed as the church staff.
What was and is special is the God they each proclaim to worship.
What was and is special is the faith behind each baptism.
Baptism is a declaration of light being found in darkness. Baptism is a demonstration of old being washed until new.
In the Bible, there’s a book title John, and there is a guy named John the Baptist who goes about doing this churchy, symbolic, water washing river bath stuff.
In the third chapter of this book, the transformation from whatever you don’t like about yourself to Christian requires a belief in Jesus Christ being a man sent by God to suffer sacrifice, come back to life, and redeem mankind from a broken relationship.
This belief is explained as a spiritual transformation; a supernatural rebirth of sorts.
To make things even more complicated with additional hippy church lingo, the book elaborates with science-like and philosophically wild follow ups.
“Flesh gives birth to flesh. Spirit gives birth to spirit.”
How do you make that resonate with people? Well, in a literary sense, water gives life.
The art of baptism uses water and basically makes a statement like, “My flesh hasn’t changed, but my spirit is new. So, this water is washing the old me and and I’m inviting the new to declare Jesus is awesome. I’m inviting his spirit to be one with my own.”
Jesus Christ, arguably unnecessarily, publically demonstrated 2000 years ago what this looks like. He did exactly what his father, God, did so many years before him.
You see, in the beginning there was darkness and there was light.
This light separated itself from the darkness, and that separation was declared good.
After the light separated from darkness, water followed. It washed over the expanse of existence and introduced new life.
In the first five verses of the Bible we’re drawn into God’s stellar picture through a universal baptism.
God invited his own spirit to transform all of His creation and live a new life in his glory.
I sat in the back of the Nuart Theater last night watching those 18 Moscow residents publicly declaring their faith; symbolizing their transformation.
I marvel at lives influence by friends, family, community, social media, and other things supernaturally charged with the Gospel.
The spiritual rebirth of these 18, and the 27 in Pullman, happened long before I entered those rooms.
But we celebrated with as much passion and joy as they did the instant they recognized change.
Like biblical King David who sang and danced before God celebrating in the second book of Samuel, we sang and danced and celebrated before the same God with these radically impacted souls.
As long as time allows us, we will continue to do so. We will celebrate new life with all of creation, rejoicing with light found in darkness.