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Different: Joined to Jesus

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Opening
For the last couple of weeks we have been going through a series called Different. It is a series that looks at the struggles and opposition that we often face in the this world and how our life in Christ shapes us to be different in this world in our relationships, in our marriage, culture, jobs, our daily life and even our response to struggles and oposition. If you are new to Bethlehem or to the Christian faith, you might be looking at this series, “i get this being different thing but where does all this begin and what does it look like?” Today, we are going to wrestle with that question.
2016 was one of the best summers of my life. It was one of the best summers of my life because it began and ended with celebration. It began, in early July with my youngest child being born. I remember holding her in the hospital and just thinking to myself this is great day, there is no greater feeling that holding your child for the first time. It ended with celebration because on labor day weekend that year, I got to baptism my daughter. That day my daughter was joined to Jesus in baptism. What added to the celebration of that baptism is that we had friends and family from all over coming to celebrate with us. We had family from Wisconsin,Maryland, and Connecticut joins us along with friends from Chicago join us to celebrate my daughters new life in Christ. What made the day even more special it that we celebrated this great occasion the way by putting up a canopy, firing up the grill for the hot dogs and hamburgers, not to mention the cold beverages and the potato salad because every summer cook out needs potato salad. And we ended it all with cake. It was an incredible end to an amazing summer.
But not all baptisms are celebrated with Cake.

Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

Stewards of God’s Grace

4 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

Over the past few weeks we have been diving into a series called, “Different” and in this series we have been exploring how as Christians we will face trials, and experience oppositions, yet we are called to respond in love in the midst these trials lived our in our relationship with our community and our family. And with this series we have been diving through the book of 1 Peter a book in the Bible written to a church that is living during a time of persecution, hostility, and suffering towards the church. And he is writing to primarily to people who did not grow up in the church, but were rather introduced to the gospel through the witness of God’s people. So Peter writes these words:
We see this when we read the book of Peter is a book in the Bible written to a church that is living during a time of persecution, hostility, and suffering towards the church. And he he writing to primarily to people who did not grow up in the church, but were rather introduced to the gospel through the witness of God’s people. So Peter writes these words:
“Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,  who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
Stewards of God’s Grace
Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” 1 Peter 3:21-4:2
For the people hearing this words in the time and place that they were written saw a different picture of baptism that many of us might see today.
Instead of a family gathering to celebrating their new life in Christ, they instead experience a family scattering because of their new life in Christ.
Instead of a nicely decorated cross on a beautiful white cake to celebrate the day of their baptism, they were often met with a heavy wooden cross placed on their should that would lead to their suffering account of their faith.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
For me, living in a Christian family, in a country which celebrates freedom of religion, I never really had this picture of baptism. Until Easter of 2007, when I was living in Japan, studying at Japan Lutheran Seminary in Tokyo. I attend an Easter worship at one of the local churches and I got to witness a older couple be baptized into the Christian faith. I later talked with the pastor about the baptism and learned that in Japan baptisms are not often followed by a family celebration but often times it seems to disrupt the relationships with in the family because it is seen to be a rejection of both family and cultural beliefs.
But maybe some of you in this room are saying to yourself right now, “I get that”. “I understand”
Maybe some of you in this room are new to the Christian faith and are just learning what it means to live in relationship to Christ.
Maybe some of you in this room have friendships and relationship or family units that just don’t understand why it is you wake up early to go to church, or why you would stand in front of a group of people and get water pour on your head. And you are hearing all this now and thinking to yourself, “I get it.” because you know that maybe those who have always been your friends or family might look at your differently. That’s because the waters of baptism have made you different.
Even as there are times in which our faith and baptismal life is often unwelcomed by a world that can so often be hostile to the gospel, we should always seek comfort that it is in baptism that Christ has welcomed us to be His own.
As I think about the celebration of my daughters baptisms in which our whole family came to celebrate, and as I think about he baptism I witnesses in Japan in which no one from the family came to celebrate, I realize that baptism is not about simply a one day celebration but rather a new life we begin.
Peter in his letter, talks about the water of baptism. There are many ways that water is used in this word. Water can be used to produced electricity. Water can be turned to ice and make tea taste so much better. Water can fill a pool and make the summer experience amazing. But with our lives it can do one of two things. It can end life or sustain life. In baptism we see these two uses of water happening together.
In the book of Romans, a follower of Christ writes, “ What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?  Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.  We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  For one who has died has been set free from sin.  Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”
If there was any follower of Christ that knew what it meant for the old self to die and to walk in a new life beginning with baptism it was Paul because Paul had a before picture.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.  We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  For one who has died has been set free from sin.  Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
Before Paul planted church, he persecuted them.
Before Paul carried a cross as a Christ, he handed them out as an adversary of the faith.
Before Paul welcomed people to the church, he sought to break the church apart.
Before Paul experience suffering as a Christ follower, He caused Christ followers to suffer.
In fact, the moment that Paul’s story turned around, Paul or at the time he was known as Saul, was heading to Damascus, to have followers of Christ persecuted for the faith. And Christ calls him out and says, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?…I am Jesus whom you are persecuting and enter the city and you will be told what to do”
God sends Paul to the same place but with different purpose.
Paul’s story teaches us important baptism...
God send Paul to meet a follower of Christ named Ananias. When Ananias first hears that God wanted him to meet Paul or Saul, I imagine Ananias fear, He knew Saul’s reputation, in fact he knew why Saul was originally coming to Damascus, word got around. And yet tells Ananias that Saul is his chosen instrument to carry His name before the Gentiles.
Baptism is not
It’s amazing how Ananias greets Saul, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened.”
As we picture Saul’s baptism, we can begin to realize that baptism is not about us saying, “God your mine.” but rather God saying to us that “we are his”.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
If you are new to church, new to learning about the faith and have not yet been baptized, I want to encourage you to do this: talk to Pastor Matt Peeples about baptism because it doesn’t matter what story or life you bring baptism, Jesus will always give you a new life when you experience baptism and with that he gives you his purpose.
In Baptism, we are joined to Jesus. and every person that is joined to Jesus in baptism, joins Jesus is his mission.
For the family of God here at Bethlehem and for Christ followers tuning in today through the Bethlehem Church Live app, I want to encourage you to welcome new people to faith with the Spirit of Ananias, Where when Saul comes to him instead of sending Saul away he says “brother”.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Stewards of God’s Grace
4 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
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