Girlfriends in God - Mar. 6, 2009

March 6, 2009 
Practicing Our Baptism 
Haven Parrott

I hope you are enjoying the Girlfriends in God daily devotions.  We (Mary, Sharon, and Gwen) would like to introduce you to some of our special friends.  From time-to-time, the Friday devotions will be written by one of our friends in ministry.  We call them our "Friday Friends."  So grab your Bible and a fresh cup of coffee and drink in the words from our "Friday Friend", Haven Parrot.

Today’s Truth 
“Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.” Romans 6:4

Friend to Friend 
Joshua Coghill gave his heart to Jesus at the ripe old age of 7 ½. After professing personal faith in Christ to his father and his pastor, Joshua was ready for the next step: baptism. He listened intently as the pastor explained that the physical act of immersion into, submersion under, and emersion from the baptismal waters would serve as the outward representation of what had already been inwardly transacted:  Joshua’s personal identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Having covered the spiritual implications, the pastor moved to practical considerations by detailing just how it would all go down on the day of the dunking.

That Joshua was still processing the impending plunging became obvious one evening at bath time when he asked his father, Craig, if they could practice his baptism. Caught off guard by his son’s curious (albeit serious) request, Craig recovered quickly, grabbed a dry washcloth  with which he covered Joshua’s mouth and nose, then  carefully submerged his son in the bath-tismal waters.  Joshua was initially unsatisfied with his dad’s dipping proficiency, so the pair practiced until Craig “got it right.” Joshua eventually emerged from the tub, cleansed not only of the day’s dirt, but of his nervousness about his soon-coming day of dunking.

When Craig told me about the family bathtub becoming a baptismal pool as young Joshua practiced his baptism, I grinned. Grinned at the child’s sincerity, and at what the Spirit was whispering inside of me: practicing our baptism before we’re dunked is a good idea. Practicing it afterwards, however, is when it really matters, for that’s when it’s obvious the day of our dunking was about way more than just getting wet. It was about getting dead. Dead to sin so we’d no longer be enslaved to sin; no longer held hostage to the ultimate penalty of sin. Dead to sin so we could experience resurrection in and with Him. Dead to sin so we could live again. Dead to sin so we could live a new life – Christ’s life.

Baptism is the announcement of our new, eternally-secure position: in Christ. Practicing our baptism - putting our position into everyday practice - is how we show we know that baptism isn’t about getting wet, it’s about getting clean.

Let’s Pray 
Lord, You died so that we might walk in a new way – Your way. Yet too often, we want Your way without giving up our old ways. We want to claim You without crucifying us. We are guilty of spiritual laziness. We want an eternally secure position without the effort of putting that position into earthly practice. We want to be clean without getting rid of the dirt.  Forgive us, Lord, and thank You for Your graceful Spirit, Who is faithful to continue coercing our cooperation in His job of sanctifying us until we see You. Amen.

Now it’s your turn 
Consider James Montgomery Boice’s explanation of the Greek word for baptize:   

"The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be 'dipped' (bapto) into boiling water and then 'baptised' (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptizing the vegetable, produces a permanent change. When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism. Mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with Him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle!"

Permanent change requires more than a dip in the baptismal pool; it requires immersion in the Word of God. It takes time in brine for a cucumber to become a pickle, and it takes time in the Word to transform a saved sinner into the likeness of her Savior. A daily bath in the water of the Word is the best way to recognize – and be cleansed from – the dirt of the world.

Would you describe your Bible-study habit as a quick dip or a deep cleansing? If it’s more like a sponge bath than a soul-softening soak, it’s time to make time for the One you’ve identified yourself with. Start with a slow, prayerful soak in Romans 6. After all, we’re not likely to be agents of change for Christ in the world until we’ve allowed ourselves to be changed by the Word.

More from the girls 
I wonder just how many people have been baptized with water, but do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  You can be a church member and involved in church work without knowing Him.  I played at being a Christian for years until the day came when playing wasn’t enough.  I had to know Him!  Do you?

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Originally published Friday, 06 March 2009.