Becoming a Christian involves three things:
Firstly it involves something that we do. Becoming a Christian involves a recognition that we’ve done things wrong, that we haven’t lived up to God’s perfect standard. You might have heard the word “repent” before. It simply means to confess to God the things that we do wrong, asking for his forgiveness and for his help to live differently in the future – not just saying sorry but actively changing the direction of our lives. And then we have to have faith. To believe that through Jesus death and resurrection we can receive God’s forgiveness and have a relationship with him.
Secondly becoming a Christian involves something that God does. Once we’ve believed in him and asked for his forgiveness he gives us his Holy Spirit. God himself comes to live within us, to comfort us, to challenge us and to inspire us. The bible says that the Holy Spirit within us marks us out as God’s adopted children, chosen to be a part of his family.
Thirdly becoming a Christian involves something that the church does. That thing is baptism. In today’s passage we heard the command that Jesus gave to the disciples: “Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
Baptism is a kind of visible mark of what it means to be a member of the church. It is a visible sign of what it means to be a Christian.
It signifies being washed or cleansed from our sin, being given a fresh start and it signifies dying and rising with Christ.
St Paul puts it like this in Romans 6: “All of you have been baptised into Christ Jesus.” Through baptism we are “in Christ” which means that whatever happened to Jesus happened, in this kind of mystical way, to us too.
Paul also says that those of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were also baptised into his death. That means that when Jesus died on the cross, you died with him. The symbol of going down into the water of baptism says that we were buried with him through baptism “in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead, we too may live a new life”.
So when Jesus rose from the dead, you rose with him. And as you come out of the water of baptism you, like Jesus on the morning of the Resurrection, rise to a brand new life in God.