Have you ever thought about the purpose of basketball?
Neither have I – until now. Though I am not the most intelligent, I understand some concepts of the sport. The point of shooting the basket is to make points towards the team’s hopeful victory. Simple enough, right? But what about slam dunks?
A slam dunk is different from the usual hoop shot because the athlete jumps up and plunges the rubber orange sphere into net hanging from a rim, rather than throwing it up and praying for a swoop. I guess that does look pretty awesome.
But the slam dunk holds the same purpose of the normal free throw: to make points for the team. Observe the infallible goal just made to get closer to that victory. It was dunked to make person look good and to increase the chance of being one step closer to success. Slam dunks are a showcase of how talented that athlete is.
That is how we should view baptisms: not as a showcase per say, but a visual of the Holy Spirit regenerating our lives and transforming us into new creatures! Before the washing of our bodies, we have already accepted the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 10:9-10). The Word of God and His Gospel had pierced us so, and infected our lives to the point where change had to take place. Not because we chose to change, but God chose us and loved us first (1 Jn 4:10). Upon entering that water, we previously experienced, tasted, witnessed, expressed, and abounded in His goodness (Heb 6:4-5; Ps 34:8).
As Christians on a race towards salvation, we practiced. We worked out. We planted our feet on the court and dribbled. We fouled our fellow teammates. We made a few free throws . We achieved some goals. But sometimes, it is not until that slam dunk – your baptism – when everyone sees what God has been doing in the locker room (1 Tim 4:6-16).
He did not just sprinkle water on your toes. He did not just wipe your face and put soap in your mouth. God did not only take the back scrubber and scoured all that dirt up. He didn’t just dry you off and heal your little cuts and bruises, and patted you on the butt. Jesus taught you, encouraged you, and washed every crevice. God gave you a new heart and a whole new human nature (2 Cor 5:17).
Leviticus 14:9 And on the seventh day he shall shave off all his hair from his head, his beard, and his eyebrows. He shall shave off all his hair, and then he shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and he shall be clean.
Your testimony is similar to a basketball player slam dunking for his team.
Remember when our sinless savior, Jesus, was baptized by John? When His whole body was surrounded by the deep, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him. All of a sudden the Father proclaimed, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)
You see: in order for your body to be clean –spotless – baptism must take place, figuratively and spiritually. The religious ceremony is your slam dunk; the symbolism of regeneration already taken place. Don’t think you have to impress God by being taken into the lake. Before John placed Jesus ‘ body into the waters of Galilee, The Father was already satisfied with His Son . The same goes for you. As for everyone else around you, they need to see the Holy Spirit.
photo: Baptism March 18th, 2012. Pastor Paul Fiske, Dominique Evans, and Brandon Cobb.