18th June 2015
I’ve recently been very intrigued by one of the shortest verses in the bible. As we have some baptism services coming up in July I was asked to write a short blog to make some comment on why we baptise people. On doing a quick summary through the verses in the New Testament, which mention baptism, I came across Ephesians 4v5: ‘one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism.’
This verse is only six words and makes three statements of truth yet they define the Christian faith as distinct from any other. This means that they are by nature divisive but powerful. They give identity and provoke discussion. Imagine having a conversation with someone at work, in the pub or your next-door neighbour about these three statements?
‘One Lord’ is a declaration that all of humanity is subject to one Lord, that there is one being in existence who has the moral right to tell everybody else what to do. Now that is a strong statement, have you signed on the dotted line to that one? I’m fine with it until it comes to something that I like doing or until I can’t see the reasoning behind an instruction. ‘Why Lord should I do, or not do that?’ and the only answer that need come back is, ‘because I am the Lord.’ Challenging!
The words ‘one faith’ represent a very unpopular belief in today’s society. The idea that there is only one way to God, only one way to find him, to relate to him and to please him is definitely a counter cultural idea and not just in 21st Century Britain. If the first statement splits the world’s population down the ‘does God exist or not’ question, then the second eliminates all but three major world religions.
Only the Jewish, Islamic and Christian faiths would acknowledge that there is one way to God. And it’s not a popular belief in a post-modern culture like ours. It means that you are either ‘in’ or ‘out’ and that is, understandably, painful for a lot of people who have those close to them who are not ‘in.’ But if we consent to the fact that there is one Lord then it is his choice as to how we relate to him.
The third statement is ‘one Baptism.’ This represents those who believe that Jesus was both fully God and fully human and that he died and rose again. Most crucially it teaches us that the ‘one faith’ statement preceding this is worked out only by trusting in Jesus’ life and death as our way of relating to God. In essence this shows us that this trust, or faith, is worked out through our actions rather than simply some well-meaning sentiment.
I find it so interesting that Paul can in six words and three statements bring identity to the entire church and also separate it from everything else. Powerful! And it of course it begs one final question are you in or out? If it’s just Paul’s last statement which is holding you up then our next baptism services will be on the 12th and 19th of July and we’d love you to join us, in every sense of the word.