“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” – Romans 6: 1-4
Some people go to great extremes to determine whether they are loved. They push the envelope in trying to prove that love.
Research suggests that children will do almost anything to get the attention of their parents and a demonstration of their love. Children always want to know how much their parents love them.
To prove that love, they might get into mischief simply to test the depth of the love their parents have for them. In seeking to prove parental love, they continually disrupt the parent’s life and cause grief.
The test goes on and on just to generate and prove love. Children abuse their parents’ generosity in order to increase love.
Sunday past, we celebrated the baptism of our Lord, or the first Sunday after the Epiphany. The above text tells us about ourselves when we experience the Sacrament of Baptism.
The Christian may ask, “What does baptism do in my life?” According to Luther’s Small Catechism: “It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil and gives eternal salvation to all who believe.” Our Lord says in Mark 16:16: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
In the mystery of baptism, some unusual things happen to us. One of those unusual happenings is mortification or death. This mortification or death, which the Christian experiences in baptism, is a spiritual one.
In baptism, we experience what Jesus experienced in his death. We die with him, cutting ourselves off from the former things. The old Adam is drowned in the waters of baptism.
Even though sin remains in the world and a part of our everyday existence, we do not have to act like the child who continually seeks his parents’ love through the mischief he causes. No, we do not need to do that with God. The apostle admonishes us to live like Christ because we are his. We do not have to continue living a life of sin and expect that God’s grace will abound or increase.
The other unusual mystery of baptism is vivification or to be made alive. Baptism takes us through a process of life and death. As Christ became alive in his resurrection, we too become alive when we are baptized.
This new life, which the apostle tells us about, is a spiritual life. In it, we have a unity with Christ, our Lord. His death broke the grip of sin, which held us captive.
Therefore, because we are a new creation in Christ through baptism, we should not continue to live as if we have no hope. Christ died that we might experience the joy of salvation.
Consequently, we should not let sin reign in our lives. We do not have to live as if we have no choice. Sin does not have to control us. We are covered in the blood of Christ Jesus.
As we celebrate Epiphany and the Baptism of our Lord, let us live out our baptismal faith. How do we do that? We do so by going to the place where we find God, where we receive His grace, which is in His word and in the sacraments. We do so through the life that we live, sharing this good news and sharing His love by extending a helping hand to those in need.
God loves us. He cares for us and wants us to live in the light of His grace. We do not have to prove His love. His love cannot be challenged. It cannot be diminished. It cannot change. It is ours for all eternity. Therefore, we should not abuse God’s grace. We are to live the new life we have in Christ Jesus. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Drive, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone: 426-9084; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.Nassaulutheranchurch.org.