Baptism’s True Power & Blessing
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. – Colossians 2:6-15 [ESV]
My favorite stop in our Footsteps of Paul tour was was in Philippi. We went to the river that ran through the area near the city ruins. The pavement of the ancient Roman road also marks the spot. It is most very likely the location of Lydia’s conversion and baptism. This is the first recorded baptism on European soil. It looks much like the photo above. Lush green with nearby flowing water.
More than a sentimental memory or even a lovely symbol of rebirth, baptism is the gift of God that connects us with Jesus’ grace and power. Paul makes it clear here by alluding to circumcision, and speaking of baptism as a circumcision made without hands, that baptism marks us as part of the family of God. Even more, we were connected with Jesus’ death and resurrection in baptism, according to Paul here.
But this is far more than a theological nicety, or theoretical argument. Having reminded the believers there of their conversion, receiving Christ as Lord, he calls on them to walk in Christ. Not to let their conversion be a once and done event, but the beginning of a path of life. And that’s not a throw-away phrase. Walking with Jesus is a way of life, not just a slice of the pie, or even the biggest slice of the pie. It’s who you are. It’s your identity. Saved. Redeemed. Baptized. Submitted to Christ’s authority because he submitted to death in your place and nailed your sins to the cross.
All he has done, and our part in Jesus’ redemptive work overflow into a life of faithful, humble, joyful, and grateful obedience. It’s who we are.