By Joel A. Hess –
I love the Michigan State Spartans. When they win a football game (which was not often this year), I feel great! The victory changes my whole day. Throughout the evening and into the next day, I relive the great moments of the game, and a smile comes over my face. Yet, at some point during my joy, a little voice in my head complains, “What does their win have to do with you? What happened on that football field two-hundred miles away doesn’t affect your life in any way. They don’t even know you exist!” It’s true, right? When our favorite team wins, it doesn’t benefit us in the slightest. It’s absolutely silly to get all excited (right, Bob Hiller?). We can parade around in our favorite team’s t-shirts and sweatshirts all we want, but it doesn’t get us anywhere.
That’s how I used to think about Christianity. Growing up, I remember sitting in the pew and listening to the pastor talk about Jesus. He would tell us how Jesus was born of a virgin. Awesome! How Jesus healed the lame and gave sight to the blind. Great! How Jesus was God’s only son and how He did everything perfectly. Super, good for Him! And of course, I heard over and over about how Jesus died and rose again. Hurrah for Jesus! He wins! Hail to the victor! Praise Jesus! But in the middle of my joy for Jesus, I distinctly remember that same voice asking, “Great for Jesus, but what does that have to do with you?” “How does His victory affect your life at all?” That happened two-thousand years ago, far away from Howard City, Michigan. Jesus died and rose, sure, but how do I know that I will?
The blood that washes our sins, the water that gives us life, comes from Christ’s side and upon ourselves when His chosen servant pours water and says, “In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Jesus won! He conquered sin and death. We don’t get a $20 t-shirt that says “Rose Bowl champions 1987!” We get Christ’s righteous robes that He paid for with His own life. We are the champions! He gives us the victory!
Just this past week, I heard a preacher get angry about those people who believe in Baptism. He cried, “I don’t believe in Baptism. I believe in Jesus!” Well, I believe in Baptism precisely because I believe in Jesus. Jesus believes in Baptism. He commanded it. Go and make disciples—by baptizing. If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me. He doesn’t leave me to wonder whether the victory that preacher is yapping about applies to me.
Next time that voice says, “What does Jesus have to do with you?”, say, “I’m baptized in His name. I’m wearing His clothes. His victory is mine, and it didn’t cost me a cent!”