By Sam Gutierrez
12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
In this recent series of blog posts, I’ve been exploring the sacrament of baptism. Last time we looked at forgiveness. Today, I want to highlight another major theme: adoption.
As I mentioned in my last post, a sacrament is a means of grace. In and through the sacrament of baptism we experience grace in an audio/visual way – we hear and see grace being poured out and splashing around. In baptism, we see grace saturate the forehead, run down cheeks, and soak clothing.
Baptism is a sign that points us to Jesus. The sacrament of baptism is like a giant arrow pointing us to the cross because water can’t save us – only the blood of Jesus is strong enough to cleanse our hearts of sin.
Baptism is also a seal. The promises symbolized in baptism don’t just float around, they land on folks. Here is another way to think about baptism as a seal – shortly after a baptism, the water dries up…but God forever sees us sopping wet. The promises soak us through and through – they get “stuck” on us – they get “sealed” upon our hearts. God wants us to know that his promises are for you and for me.
I’ve been ending my posts by having you touch your forehead, saying, "I’m baptized." The important thing here is the wording – it’s present tense. When you touch your forehead and say “I’m baptized,” you are also saying “I’m adopted into God’s family now and forever.” Not only does God’s grace displayed on the cross forgive us and cleanse our hearts, but God also graciously adopts us into his family. We have a home. We have a place of belonging.
Through adoption, we become brothers and sisters of Jesus. We are children of the King. Believe it or not, this makes us royalty (see Romans 8). We are God’s royal children, exercising power and authority over creation so that everybody and everything may flourish. This is the whole point of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet. It’s a lesson in the royal use of power – not to self-serve, but to serve others.
For this week, I’d like to encourage you to touch your forehead and say the words, “I’m baptized.” Next, touch your forehead and say, “I’m adopted.” When we do this, we acknowledge that we are being swept up into a wonderful story of belonging.
It’s important to remember that the sacraments are primarily about God. The pouring of water is a sign point us to God’s big heart where there is room enough for millions and millions of children. The pouring of water also seals God’s promises onto our hearts. We know without a doubt that we are the royal children of God – princes and princesses in the Kingdom, ruling and serving with loving kindness – just like God.