During spring break my family took a trip to the Cleveland museum of natural history. In this picture you’ll notice that my eldest child, Jess, has a wonderful smile. Not sure how she roused that one. It had been a traumatic day for her.
It happened at the deer/turkey exhibit in the miniature zoo outside. An elevated walkway about twenty feet long separated us from the animals by a three-foot railing with sparsely spaced thin metal posts. On the other side of the railing was a shallow man-made pond, the kind that can be drained to keep it clean. Jess had already had an altercation with a turkey further down the exhibit where the fence was much higher. It had taken a snap at her through the fence, but missed. It was a sign of things to come.
Like most animals at zoos – except for monkeys (and turkeys, apparently) – deer aren’t in the entertainment business. They wouldn’t move. So, Jess decided to do a little dance that involved a lot of hand motions to get their attention. Then we heard a sound of a small device hitting the ground and an ominous “ker-plunk”.
At first, Jess didn’t pick up on what had happened. On the edge of the pond was the back to the sparkly phone case. Upon impact, the phone had separated from the case and made the rest of the journey to the bottom of the pond alone.
Everybody looked a Jess’s reaction. Horror. She looked as if she had lost her best friend. In fact, she actually said “I’ve lost my best friend!” Her expressions gave away all her thoughts. How am I going to fit in my 10,000 text quota by the end of the month? How will I survive not connecting with my friends every fifteen seconds? I know! Dad can jump in and get my phone.
I won’t keep you in suspense. I didn’t jump in. But I did get a pole with a net from a staff member, climb to the other side of the railing and attempt to scoop out the phone that none of the rapidly appearing crowd could see in the murky water. Of course, that’s when the giant deer and the menacing turkey decided to mosey on over to the pond. Alas, the back of the sparkly case is all that could be recovered. Fortunately, when we got home Emma found my old phone and Jess is using that now. It’s the same model, but no sparkles.
Jess hadn’t intended on getting her phone fully submersed. It just happened. For a phone it’s death, but for people it’s life. Baptism doesn’t save us from sin. If that were true, our salvation wouldn’t be based on faith but on our actions. Instead, baptism is the public witness of what has already happened, that we’ve put our faith in Jesus Christ to save us from the penalty of our sin.
And it’s not only an after-life thing, as Jesus pointed out in his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane:
This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3, NASB)
Eternal life isn’t just about how long you will live, but Whom you will live your life with.
Jess had no choice but to live with the consequences of this accidental baptism. Our baptism is intentional, but the results are not automatic. We must live everyday as if we are experiencing more of our eternal life because we know Jesus and are becoming more like him. And that, my friends, is no accident.
For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:29, NLT)