Live Like You Were Baptized

Posted by on Aug 31, 2013 in Faith Words |

Words of Faith

Rev. Rita S. Platt

August 4, 2013

“Live Like You Were Baptized”

Third in the series on the book of Colossians

This week we are in the 3rd week of our journey through Colossians. The letter originated because Epaphras, the leader of the church in Colossae, came to Paul in Rome. He had good news and bad news about the church. 

The good news was the gospel had born fruit among the Colossians – they were continuing in their faith in Christ and in love for their fellow believers. The bad news was the believers were being affected by the world around them. So Paul wrote this letter to persons he had never met. He began by speaking words of blessing, and he helped them to understand how they could see the world around them through the eyes of faith. . 

We continue our reading with Colossians 2: 6-19. 

Some of you are aware I have just returned from vacation. I had the privilege of travelling to Tennessee to baby-sit my 15, 9 and 6 year old grandchildren while my daughter and son-in-law were in California. I really shouldn’t call it baby-sitting; it was really an opportunity to have fun with my grandchildren. It occurred at a great time because when their parents returned on Tuesday evening they moved into “back to school time,” the calendar blocked out for dentist appointments and hair appointments for all the children. The weekend would be a time for clothes and shoes shopping. Only a few days remain; for my grandchildren school starts this Wednesday.

Since we are on the subject of school, I thought I would test your memory from English class. Do you know what a mixed metaphor is? A mixed metaphor combines two or more images that don’t seem to make sense. Here are some examples: You’ve buttered your bread…now lie in it; Marching to the beat… of a dead horse; Robbing Peter… to pay the Piper. 

In Colossians 2:6-7, Paul mixes several metaphors in order to describe the process of spiritual growth: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

Many commentators believe that this is the theme of the entire book, sort of like the hinge point of Colossians. On the faith side, the Colossians had received Christ Jesus as Lord and had been taught the faith. On the practice side, they needed to continue to live in Him and be built up in Him, becoming strengthened in their faith and overflowing with thankfulness. So Paul uses a number of word pictures to describe spiritual progress. We will look briefly at 3 of them:

1. Tree. . . In this agricultural metaphor, just as a tree is “rooted,” we are to be grounded in the soil of God’s Word. The tense of the Greek word means, “once and for all having been rooted.” Those who have received Christ are rooted in Him. A tree puts down deep roots in order to find nutrition and to provide stability. Likewise, we must go deep with Christ in order to find the fuel we need to flourish and in order to withstand the storms of life. This image most likely comes from the beautiful picture in Jeremiah 17:8: “He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” When we are rooted in a relationship with Christ, we will have everything we need for life and for godliness as 2 Peter 1:3 declares. Just as a tree cannot thrive without any roots, so too, we cannot grow if we have not been grounded in “His glory and goodness.”

2. Building. . . Our foundation is built on Christ; we must continue to add on so that we’re “being built up in him.” Ephesians 2:20 tells us that we were “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.” A cornerstone was a big stone placed at the intersecting angle, where two walls of a building came together. In biblical times, buildings were often made of cut rock. By uniting two intersecting walls, a cornerstone helped align the whole structure and tie it together. In the same way, as the chief cornerstone, Jesus holds everything together and provides alignment to our lives.

3. River. This word picture of a river bursting over its banks is based on the phrase, “overflowing with thankfulness.” The more we understand grace, the more gratitude we will have. 

What a beautiful picture of how we are to live, “ rooted and built up in Christ, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” It seems so simple, so easy to remember.

I love the story about the older couple who had trouble remembering common, day-to-day things. They both decided that they would write down requests the other had, and so try to avoid forgetting. One evening the wife asked if the husband would like anything. He replied, “Yes. I’d like a large ice-cream sundae with chocolate ice cream, whipped cream and a cherry on top.” The wife started off for the kitchen and the husband shouted after her, “Aren’t you going to write it down?” “Don’t be silly,” she hollered back, “I’m going to fix it right now. I won’t forget.” She was gone for quite some time. When she finally returned, she set down in front of him a large plate of hash browns, eggs, bacon, and a glass of orange juice. He took a look and said “I knew you should have written it down! You forgot the toast!” The Colossians were having trouble remembering the strength they had to live a new life, so Paul gives them a reference point. He talks about circumcision (for the Jew circumcision was the sign of the covenant). He then reminds them of their baptism:

“In him you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision…when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith…”

And we need to be reminded of our baptism. That can be a challenge because many of us were baptized as infants; we were unable to speak, so our parents answered the questions. However, even if this is the case for you, when you were confirmed or when you joined the church you repeated those vows. Today I’d like to focus on one of them:

“Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever form they present themselves?” And you said “yes.” So we need to live like we are baptized. We need to remember who and whose we are. When you were younger your parents probably spoke words similar when you left the house, “remember who you are.” It was their way of saying “when you are out there in the world and we are not nearby, act accordingly; don’t embarrass yourself and don’t embarrass us.” When I remember my baptism I am challenged to live like a child of God. I am challenged to remember when I am out there in the world I shouldn’t do anything to cause others to think less of my heavenly parent. But do we daily live that way? 

This week let’s pay attention to our words and our actions. Let’s examine our thoughts. If we make a conscious effort we can live like we are baptized, “rooted and built up in Christ, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”