Our Baptismal Identity

by caseybedell

As a Presbyterian I have seen a lot of babies get baptized, and while this sacrament is a sign and seal of the covenant of grace to the one being baptized, it also serves as a means of grace to those who witness.

For the already baptized, our attention is directed back to the font where it all began. Here the water retells the gospel story of God’s uninvited grace. It tells the story of the God who breaks in to reclaim what is his, not our claim upon him.

So every time we see a baby or a convert baptized, we are being taken back to our baptismal identity.  The picture of a baby being baptized is especially fitting for Westerners who are obsessed with being exceptional, pretty, and comfortable with the identities the world confers.  God insults us with a gospel shaped, unearned identity that is conferred upon us by His grace alone.

Our true identity is son or daughter of the one God who is Father of all.  Through water he calls us to share in his Son’s life, death and resurrection by the Holy Spirit.

This event reminds us that grace comes to us, interrupts our life, causes us to cry (which happens at most baptisms for babies), and safely locates us within a new family; the divine family of Father, Son and Holy Spirit that is visibly expressed through Christ’s body, the church.

To borrow from the Westminster divines, remembering this is what it means to improve upon our baptism.  It is growing into what we already are by grace. So every time you see a baby get wet and cry, just remember, that is the gospel being preached to you again, and again, in order to remind you that grace comes to you, unilaterally and uninvited.

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