2017 was a year that I will always remember with great clarity. This is because several big things were happening in my life that year. Our third child, Daniel, was born at the end of 2016, so Bethany and I were adjusting to being “outnumbered” in the home. My former church opened the doors to a brand-new state of the art facility, and we were experiencing exponential church growth. And in the city of Houston (where I was residing), I remember everyone caught a case of “Astros-fever.” As you may remember, the Houston Astros finally took home their first world series championship that year after having no luck for 50+ years as an organization. I remember how I jumped on the bandwagon with great enthusiasm that year. Everyone in the city was thrilled that our team formerly ridiculed as the “Lastros” finally made it to the top of the mountain.
The mass hysteria was very clear to me when I drove by a local Academy on the evening of the World Series championship. The store had advertised that they’d be the first to carry “World Series Champion” merchandise for fans to purchase. The store planned to open their doors the next morning, but I was shocked to see hundreds of people lined up outside preparing to spend the night outdoors. They were committed to doing whatever it took to get that coveted championship merchandise. And many will hear that story and think, “why?” Why would they be so fixated on owning a simple t-shirt? The reason is they desperately wanted to identify themselves with a champion. They saw the Astros victory as their victory, and they wanted the world to know it.
I find it interesting that right before Jesus Christ ascended to heaven, He left the church with a specific commandment. He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Jesus commanded us to go and tell others about Him, but He also commanded us to baptize them after they believed. It’s clear that baptism meant a lot to Jesus. He himself was baptized (Matthew 3), and He chose to highlight this topic during His most critical, final words to His disciples. And because baptism meant so much to Jesus, I believe baptism should also mean much to us. After all, through believer’s baptism we are publicly identifying ourselves with our champion. The Bible teaches us that Jesus’ victory over sin and death is our victory over sin and death. By grace and through faith, His victory has become our very own. And believer’s baptism is our way of putting on that championship t-shirt.
This year we are placing a special emphasis on baptism on Easter Sunday. Easter is the perfect day to raise your flag for Christ through baptism. There is no better way to celebrate the resurrection than to demonstrate that resurrection through believer’s baptism. Every baptism is a Gospel presentation. As a believer goes under the water, we declare that he or she has been “buried with Christ unto death.” These words celebrate that all of their sins, past, present and future, were crucified with Christ. Then when the believer comes out from the water, we declare that he or she has been “raised to walk in newness of life.” These words point out that the believer has experienced a spiritual resurrection through faith in Jesus Christ, and one day, he or she will experience a physical resurrection through the second coming of Christ.
If you have never been baptized by immersion, I would strongly encourage you to take that bold step this Easter. Last Sunday, we had a great turnout at our ABC Kids “First Steps” class, and two kids were ready to raise their flags for Christ this Easter. If you have children in your home that you think may be ready, you’re welcome to join us for our second class on March 28th at 12:15pm (Sign up HERE). I was also thrilled that two students committed to be baptized at our ABC Student Conference. Through all of this, it’s clear to me that our Savior was spot on when He told us that we all need to find child-like faith (Matthew 18:3-4). Children have a way of humbly trusting God’s commandments for their life, and my hope is that all of us grown-ups will likewise do the same. If God is leading you to be baptized this Easter, you can sign up HERE or in our lobby this Sunday. From there, our staff will follow up and we’d be honored to help walk you through the process.
I look forward to opening up Philippians Chapter 4 with you this Sunday. Don’t forget to “spring forward” your clocks the night before. We’ll have fresh coffee waiting for you in the morning, and we can’t wait to worship with you this weekend at ABC.