New Life Through Baptism
Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:3-4, NIV)
There is a belief in my culture that the spirit of the deceased lives on. Most will go on living in the underworld to be with their great ancestors waiting to be reborn, but a few will wander among the living because of the horror of their sins, or the cruelty of their death by their persecutors. These spirits that cannot enter the underworld need offerings, often animal sacrifice made by their families or their persecutors, to atone for their sins so their spirits can be released. If they are not released, they will return to haunt their families, causing diseases and illnesses, even more death, until such a sacrifice is made. Many Hmong became Christians because of illnesses and misfortunes caused by the “ghost” of their deceased loved ones.
But for those who are believers and were baptized in Christ, it is believed that the spirit of the deceased cannot return to haunt or cause illness and death to them. Because the spirit of the deceased can no longer recognize them or see them because they now belong to God, having been buried and raised from the dead through baptism, to a new life. Baptism is what is believed to prevent them from suffering from the spirit of their deceased or the spirit of death. More than just a sign of God’s presence, baptism is God’s very power and grace that prevents and saves us the spirit of death.
I will have been baptized 40 years this coming July, buried with Christ and raised again with Christ for a new life. I am prevented from the spirit of death and all its power. I have been set free and the life I have now is the life in Jesus Christ in which no spirit of death can claim my life. As Memorial Day came and passed, how did you remember your loved ones who had gone before you into heaven? How about remembering your own baptism, your own death in Christ to your sin? What was significant for you in your baptism or confirmation at the time of your baptism or confirmation? What is significant today as you come to understand your baptism or confirmation? My hope is that your faith in your baptism or confirmation will be more than just a sign or rite of church membership, but will be the power of God in your life that prevents you from all evils and harms. It is the power that saves you from sin and death.