Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Baptismal citizenship

As I write this in my office, I hear the sound of U.S. Census worker training taking place upstairs. It’s the rustling of tables, moving of chairs. It is the sound of good stewardship. I love that our space can be used by the community. When Cub Scouts or a homeowner’s association uses Amazing Grace property as a meeting place, it shows our neighbors that something is going on here. It also provides an evangelism opportunity. The more people who have some sort of contact with Amazing Grace, the better.

Having census people at Amazing Grace reminds me that I need to fill out a census form and get counted. I am amazed at the effort and work that it takes to count everyone in the United States. If the government can collect that information about us, imagine how well God knows the billions and billions of people who have ever lived. A psalmist writes:

O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways (Psalm 139:1-3).

With the U.S. Census going on, and with recent legislation in Arizona about immigration, there is a lot of talk in our cultural and political milieu about who has what papers when and who is a citizen where. I’m reminded of what Paul tells the congregation at Phillipi: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20).

When it comes down to it, our citizenship in heaven is what matters. We are all children of God, but I wonder how might we prove this citizenship if we got pulled over? By our love? By how we treat our neighbor? By a baptismal certificate?

My own baptismal certificate is on my office wall. It’s a white piece of paper with blue ballpoint pen writing. It’s not beautifully illustrated with handsome calligraphy like some of those I’ve seen from a generation or so back. I know people who have lost their baptismal certificates, but they are still loved by God.

On May 9, we will welcome another person into the Body of Christ. When I pour water on that baby boy’s head, we will witness again God’s love being poured out.

Our citizenship in the Kingdom is sealed by the cleansing waters of baptism and by what God does for us.
Papers—we don't need no stinking papers.
We're all documented by God, even without a baptismal certificate.
We're all a part of the reign of God.
We're sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.

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