Baptism: Being drowned into the Kingdom of God
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Reflecting on this passage reminded me of a family trip to Florida when I was around five years old. I remember watching a National Geographic-like show about deep water diving at my cousins apartment. My father made me go outside to play with all the other kids at the pool. I remember seeing the big kids jump into the 10 feet section of the pool. With my newly acquired skills of deep water diving I jumped into the 10 feet without knowing that one had to hold their breath while under water. I distinctly remember the fist couple of seconds under the water being totally amazed at the sight of these kids jumping in and watching them move their feet making bubbles under the water. Then I took a breath. Ah…man. The burning sensation in my nostrils, water filling my lungs, and the sense of helplessness I felt as I felt my body go limp. I had this feeling that I was going to die. Then out of nowhere one of my cousins jumped in to save me from certain drowning. Luckily, I didn’t need CPR. But it was definitely a rude awakening for me. This episode in my life left an indelible mark on my soul. I was afraid of the water for a long time. It was a transformative moment for me. I wouldn’t get over my fear of water until I joined the Navy (something about being in a Submarine hundreds feet under the sea will either make you or break you).
I thought about this episode this morning as I was reflecting on the sacrament of baptism. Baptism in the Christian circles I have traversed in the past often expressed it as a symbolic act representing a inward disposition towards Christ’s salvific work. But as life experience has taught me drowning can be a life changing albeit a transformative moment. I now believe baptism to be so. Baptism is not only entrance into the ekklesia of Christ…it is entrance into the kingdom of God…the society of God’s reign (borrowing from Scot McKnight). In baptism we are being drowned into the kingdom of God. We are dying to this ‘old aeon’ and being raised with Christ into the society of God. This has social, political, and spiritual implications. My question for further reflection: when we rise from the drowning waters of our Jordan who exactly should be rising?