Baptised, dead and resurrected
On the 1st of May, Die Burger had an article about a chokka boat called the Kunene.
The owners had two boats and only one licence, so the boat had stood for 5 years in the harbour. Earlier this year the owners decided that since they could not sell the boat as a boat due to the unavailability of fishing licences, they would disassemble it and sell off the parts and the timber.
The estimated value if they did this would have been around R1 million. So they cancelled their insurance on the boat and planned to start stripping.
The problem is that, before they could strip the boat, it had sunk where it stood in the harbour.
The salvagers tried to resurrect the Kunene from her watery grave but time and again their attempts failed. Eventually the owner sold her to a salvager for the grand sum of R5. It took a number of attempts before the salvager was able to refloat the boat and now he is busy stripping her and selling off the parts for large sums of money.
In your mind’s eye can you imagine what it must be like for a ship to sink?
As it goes down, the water forces its way in through every available opening and gushes through the boat. Everything which is not bolted down is swept away as the water pushes in to every part of the boat. Everything that is not “the boat” is washed away and the boat is left just the essential boat.
In Biblical Greek the word for this process of a ship sinking is “Baptizo”. From Baptizo we get the English word “baptise”.
Scripture tells us that as Christians we have been baptised into the death and the resurrection of Jesus. We have ALREADY died to our old self and been washed clean and our spirits are already resurrected.
For Christians, our spirits are already brand new, but our minds need to be renewed and our bodies will still die and await the return of Jesus before they are resurrected.
Take a moment and try to imagine the sinking of the Kunene. Now try to see that as what happens to you when you have accepted Jesus.
Like the water that filled the Kunene, the Holy Spirit goes into every part of our Spirit, soul and body and washes us clean. You are left brand new, a new creation.
Your sin is the flotsam which is not bolted down, God washes it away.
I don’t know what your experience has been, but quite often it feels like there is this gap between God and I, and I start asking Him why He’s so distant, why He has moved away.
As I child my brother couldn’t stand water on his face. So he would jump in the bath and wash his entire body, with the exception of his face. And then he would start to dawdle, and even start rewashing everything else.
But at some point he had to give in. At some point he had to stick his head under the water. Until he did, he could not move on.
There are times in all our lives when we seem to hang on to some last vestige of our old sinful self, and we refuse to die to the old sinful ways. We refuse to let the Holy Spirit flood through our whole lives. Instead we build bulkheads and water tight doors.
And yet we then argue with God and say, “Why don’t you fix this”, but we have shut Him out.
Revelation 3 says that Jesus stands at the door and knocks, but it is our choice whether we let Him in or not.
At times in our lives we all seem to resist God because we don’t want to surrender the power, we want God to fix the problems in our lives, as long as He does it our way.
Jesus said in Matthew 16, ‘Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever gives up their life will save it.”
In Colossians Paul speaks to the Christians about things which belong to the old life. Amongst these things Paul speaks about “self-imposed worship”. Paul is speaking about man made religious wisdom which says, “don’t touch that is dirty, don’t taste that it will make you unclean.”
Like my brother, rather than allowing ourselves to be flooded by God, what we do is we fake our surrender to God, we go back over the old ground which is already clean and start washing all over again.
When God says, “You need to forgive that person”, sometimes I really don’t want to. So I am tempted to use a lot of “self imposed worship”, instead of doing what God wants.
Sometimes I take time reminding God of all the other people I have forgiven for much worse offences, almost asif I am asking God to let me just have this one little grudge.
Or I try to divert attention to other areas of my life where I feel things are going well. Rather that facing my giant, I try to pray more, to put more money in the offering or to avoid chocolate.
But the problem with all those strategies is that they don’t deal with the real problem.
The real problem is my resistance of God when I don’t allow God to gush through the critical areas of my life. And until I do, I am stuck in the bath.
Jesus wants to be your Lord of all and in all.
When I am avoiding God’s ongoing housecleaning in my life, I often take on what Paul calls “a form of Godliness but denying the power of it.”
In 1 Samuel 15 Saul had decided to disobey God and then thought he could make it all right by sacrificing a few sheep. In rebuke Samuel says to Saul, “To obey is better than to sacrifice, obedience is better than the fat of rams.”
I was driving through sugar cane fields on the way to the Durban airport two weeks ago. I said to the other guys in the car that I had been really tempted to pick some sugar cane for the children, but had decided not to as that would be theft.
The guy sitting next to me said, “Well take some and just repent afterwards”.
I asked, “Have you not read in your Bible that when we know something is sin, that God says “DON’t Do IT” and we still do it and then try to repent, there is no repentance for such a sin?”
Throughout the history of mankind, we see people who, just like us, fill their lives with religious ritual rather than Godly surrender. Who fill their lives with flowery repentance rather than humble obedience.
Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You even tithe on your herbs and spices, and yet you have overlooked the essentials of mercy and justice.”
When we stop avoiding the issue and we surrender to God, we allow Him to wash out all the flotsam in our lives.
Paul says “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”
He says we must “put to death sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry”
We have to jettison this stuff which destroys.
For 5 years the Kunene just sat in PE harbour decaying. Isn’t it ironic that her sinking has started a new chapter in her life?
Sometimes we fight with all our might for what we think is best, but when we allow ourselves to sink and be flooded by God, that things start to change.
Paul says “it is when I am weak that I am strong.”
As I thought about this chokka boat, something else struck me. Most boats fight hard not to sink,
but the Kunene fought very hard not to be resurrected.
They tried several times with several different strategies to get her out of the water, but it almost seems she wanted to stay sunk.
Sometimes people want to remain sunk.
We are happy to die to the old sinful messy self, but we don’t want to get out of the baptistery and go live as new people, as new creations, as citizens of heaven.
We want to be saved, but we do not want to go into all the world and make disciples.
We want to be saved, but we do not want to become ambassadors for God, telling people the war is over.
We want to stay under water like The Kunene.
Paul says to the Colossians, “You have been raised with Christ”.
Paul says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3
On the same subject, Paul said to the Romans, “just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
Jesus’ expectation of us is that now, having been washed clean of every sin, we would consciously, deliberately, strategically set out to do good for the Glory of God.
Jesus would have us set our minds to seeing the reign of God come to earth like a ship sets her sails and her rudder.
The Kunene will never again be a chokka boat. She is in the process of becoming something brand new. Her engine will probably land up in some catamaran. Her deck is made of Burmese oak. Some of that will become furniture, some may become a table in a home while other pieces could become a floor in a house in Summerstrand.
She will never be a chokka boat again, but she will find a new glory.
I think this new life in Christ is what God wants for us.
Just think of Paul. As a Pharisee he had all the frills and bells. Yet as a Pharisee he killed Christians.
As an apostle of Jesus Christ he was a poor ragamuffin that walked from town to town across Asia. But as an apostle he led thousands of people to follow Jesus. Through the letters Paul wrote he still influences millions of people today.
Becoming a Christian means walking away from our old ungodly behaviour, but it doesn’t stop there. We have to be resurrected.
We have to start living our new lives in Christ, as citizens of heaven who want to see God’s reign here on earth.
Paul says where we used to be angry and malicious and selfish and vindictive, we now start to lead lives marked, noteworthy for their compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
In Romans, “offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life”
Paul says, “Let the peace of God rule your heart and be thankful.”
This morning I would like to urge you to arise from your baptism and live your Christianity to the full.