Water is thicker than blood. Yes, you read that right. For Christians, the water of baptism is thicker than the blood of biology that binds us to kith and kin. The name on our door and notepaper at QPBC says we are a “Baptist” church. Amongst the rich tapestry of meanings this word conjures up is the truth that we are bound together by something much deeper than circumstances or preferences. We are profoundly united in Christ and baptism proclaims this, telling us that we have, each one, been adopted as siblings into his family.
Gal 3:26-28 spells it out. Faith in Jesus makes us children of God; our status, our dignity, and our hopes are not based on race, gender or social status. If you belong to Jesus, then you belong to the family. Faith in Christ is a package deal: to receive Jesus is to receive his family. In the same way, we don’t select our biological families so we don’t get to choose who else can enter the family of God.
That’s hard to swallow in a society where choice is king and where I am continually encouraged to demand my rights, choose my tribe and express myself no matter what.
Elvis was right. We all have suspicious minds, fuelled by fear and conspiracy theories we prefer to shun or de-platform those we disagree with and cluster around those whose politics or beliefs we share. Yet we all need people to speak the truth in love, to challenge our prejudices and blind spots and to disagree agreeably. Indeed, if we are to seek to engage with the wider world then we need to learn how to accept others without coming into agreement with them.
I noticed Justin Brierley suggesting this week 3 ways in which we might do this as we seek to build a connection with people who are different to us.
- Get out of your echo chamber
- Make friends with your enemies
- Stop arguing, start persuading
That seems to be great advice for befriending people both in and outside the Christian family.
This Sunday, we are thinking about baptism and what it means. I wonder what it means to you? Have you been baptised? How does your baptism influence you now?
Baptism is all about plunging in, in faith, and pledging allegiance to Jesus whatever the road ahead may bring. This week two couples will be “taking the plunge” in marriage. They will exchange vows and commit to love one another in sickness and in health, whether they be rich or poor, throughout their lives together.
Baptism reminds us that, like marriage, we are committing to the family God the father has adopted for himself. In baptism, we are promising to love and be loved, through thick and thin, in good times and bad. This is a “covenant commitment”, a promise to stick with each other when our problems don’t get fixed, when life gangs up upon us and mugs us when our needs are not met and our expectations remain unanswered.
To love Christ is to love his body. To pledge our allegiance to him is to stick with his children. Like it or not we are joined as siblings together in him, water is thicker than blood.