Our Great Transition

June 20, 2024

Water and Sky

We’re having an outdoor service at Trowbridge Falls on July 21st and, as is tradition in our community, if someone is looking to be baptized, we’ll make that the focus of our morning together. Baptism is a bit of an odd thing to our modern sentiments and maybe we don’t appreciate or recognize its significance in the life of the Christian. Maybe we see it as a sort of “nice to do” rather than any sort of prerequisite for life in Jesus. And to be fair, Jesus will never reject us if we don’t get baptized but this is not to downplay the importance of this sacred act.

Earlier this week I watched an interview with author Meghan Good on eschatology (the study of “end times” or our ultimate destiny, etc.) and there was a fascinating part on eternal life that stood out to me. We tend to think of eternal life as what happens after death; that we live a life of flesh and blood here on earth either following Jesus or not and then we die and our soul goes on for eternity either with Jesus…. or not. There are all sorts of things to dissect in that particular narrative, but for many of us, holding this perspective assumes that the “great transition” is obviously marked by death. That death would be the moment that separates us from this life to eternal life.

Good challenges this idea, suggesting that, for the Christian, it is in fact BAPTISM that marks the great transition. Jesus spoke of eternal life as far more than just where we go after we die and in fact more as a way of life that begins when we give our lives to Jesus and moves into eternity. Think of this notion of the “Kingdom of God” that he always spoke of – that as Jesus followers we are citizens of a different Kingdom, a different way of living that seeks the good of others first, that loves selflessly, that resists violence and coercion, that seeks restoration and healing in all spheres of life and reality, etc. Living in this way is to literally experience “eternal life” right now. This is the beginning of what will one day be the reality of all things, everywhere. I like how the Bible Project suggests that Jesus and his followers are to bring about “little pockets of heaven” in all the spheres of our lives by way of Kingdom-like living everywhere. That is, Christians, when we’re at our best embodying this Kingdom of God ethic, offer a taste of what’s to come. (Admittedly, we fail at this way too often which is why so many have stopped looking to the Church for any answers or hope in the here and now…. but I digress.)

And so, if this is eternal life, then it would follow, suggests Good, that baptism, and not death, is really where the great transition begins: “Baptism is the moment we die and leave behind the old self and are resurrected and reborn into this new life” she notes. Baptism is the point where we transfer our citizenship, where we make a pledge of allegiance to this King and its Kingdom, to serve within this new way of living and to be ambassadors of this Kingdom to the rest of the world. It’s the point, in theory, where everything changes.

This is why baptism matters. Yes, on one level, it is symbolic and no, I don’t believe it has any direct bearing on your “salvation,” per se, but there is a reason it has been a staple sacrament of the Church since inception and also a direct command from Jesus himself (Mark 16:16). Baptism not only serves as an act of obedience but also as a meaning-filled display that signifies a death to our old self through submersion and a resurrection to eternal life at resurfacing. What’s more, all of this takes place in the presence of a community of other Kingdom citizens who get to witness this beautiful moment of eternal life unfold and are privileged to come alongside to support and encourage the newly baptized in their walking into the fullness of eternal life. Honestly, when I step back and consider how much beauty and significance is caught up in the act of baptism, I get choked up (no surprises!) and am once more filled with hope for the ongoing work of restoration being done in our midst.

Let me leave you with this: have you or your loved ones been baptized? If not, I’d be honoured to lead you into this. Get in touch with me steve.b@grassroots.church soon and let’s start chatting about it over coffee!


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