This is one of those sentences we hear so much that we may not stop to think about what it really means — especially what it means for how we view life and how we live.
How does knowing — and remembering — that we are a beloved child of God impact our day-to-day lives?
Sunday is the day in the Christian Calendar called The Baptism of Our Lord when we remember Jesus’ baptism and reaffirm our own baptism. In Sunday’s scripture reading, just as Jesus is being baptized by John he sees “heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him.” Then he hears a voice coming from the heavens saying, “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”
In you I find happiness.
Think about those words for just a moment. In this one simple statement of affirmation during Jesus’ baptism, we see God as the most loving of parents — and how God’s love for us mirrors all the things we might say about how a devoted parent loves a child: acceptance, grace, and yearning for the best.
Baptism is a sacrament, a symbolic act, that signifies who we are in relationship to God. Because of God’s love and God’s infinite grace, we are all beloved children of God. As we remember our baptism, we remember that we are beloved children of God in whom God finds happiness. This shapes how we view life, how we live our lives, and how we treat one another.
Martin Luther, the 16th century Protestant reformer, was under severe pressure — even the threat of death — from the papacy to recant his teachings. If it weren’t for his protectors in Germany, Martin Luther never would have survived this time. The way he found peace and was able to carry on in the face of this constant and imminent danger was simple. He would say to himself, over and over again, “Remember that you are baptized.” In those five words he found strength. By reminding himself that he was a “beloved child of God,” he knew he could live each day with confidence, trust, courage, and conviction.
So the question is, what difference does baptism make to us? What significance does knowing that we are “a beloved child of God” hold for each of us in our own lives? How does it impact the way we live our lives and face our own challenges? There’s nothing magical about the water we use in baptism, but there is power in what baptism symbolizes and the effect on the baptized.
I look forward to exploring it with you this Sunday in this special service of Reaffirmation of Baptism.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster,