Unity Through Baptism
by Jodi Hiser
In his well-loved book The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis portrays a fantastical place called Narnia where “it is always winter and never Christmas”. Stepping into Narnia through an oversized wardrobe, our main characters, the four Pevensie children, marvel at the harsh cold and deep snow. Their exploration of this land leads them to discover the source of this winter: the black-hearted White Witch. Her evil keeps the land in a state of perpetual death. But that doesn’t stop the chattering rumors among the talking animals that Aslan is on the move. And in this truth, the ice begins to thaw; the snow begins to recede. Aslan’s power changes the land of Narnia from lifeless winter to a land of budding trees and lush green pastures.
This whimsical tale so beautifully mirrors the spiritual truth within us. Before conversion, the state of the heart is one of endless winter and death. But once God gifts us with faith, He springs forth in us a new creation. The old has gone, and the new has come. Where we once wallowed in unbroken patterns of sin, we now walk freely in new life with Christ.
But does this mean that we become sinless? Any seasoned believer will testify that the struggle with sin is real. Sin is messy, and the church is a family of sinful, messy people. Our life in Christ reveals to us our messiness, and when we put our trust in Him, Christ begins the process of pruning away the sin inside our hearts.
The pruning takes a lifetime. Paul himself lamented, “Why can’t I do the things I know I should do, while doing the things I know I should NOT do?!?” (Paraphrase mine) This is often our lament. In struggles with sinful tendencies, we often throw our hands in the air with frustration. But Romans 6:4 reminds us that as believers, we are united with Christ, and our baptism is a symbol that anchors us memorially to that unity. Because we were “buried” with Him by baptism, we are no longer bound to the chains of sin; our sinful life is dead, just as Christ was buried inside the tomb. And since we are united to Christ, His resurrection has become our resurrection, enabling us to walk in righteousness apart from sin.
Our baptism reminds us that we have been marked, set apart as God’s covenant children. In our momentary frustrations with sin, our baptism reminds us of God’s sign and pledge that He will fulfill His promises in us. What He started, He will finish. Looking backwards to our baptism reminds us that our hearts are no longer in winter. God is on the move. And He has given us the ability to walk in the newness of life, stepping outside the bondage of sin, walking in works of righteousness that He has prepared for us, for His pleasure and glory.