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Last week we talked about a light that is Christ and how it shines through the darkness of our lives when we have dark situations. In our opening scripture we see how God created light and he separated the light from that darkness and called the light day and the darkness night. This was the first day of creation. When I first saw this passage mixed with the others in the lectionary for this week, I found it odd why this passage of creation would be mixed in with passages about baptism. However, after some thought I can see how all these tie in together.
In the beginning when man was placed in the garden he was separated from the darkness and living in a world of light and goodness all around him. The man himself had no darkness in him for he was also good and had no knowledge of evil and darkness. However, man sinned and not only did this knowledge enter the man and his wife but also darkness itself entered the man and the woman. Unfortunately, darkness cannot be in the light and the light exposed the darkness that was in the man and woman. Therefore, they had to leave this garden of light and enter a world of darkness. God once again as in the first day of creation separated the darkness from the light. From that day on there has been a struggle in the lives of men between the darkness that they allowed to enter them and the light in which the were created to live.
4000 years later something different happens. A child is born that is different than any other child born. Instead of being born in the darkness with darkness in him this child is a light that pierces through that darkness. Mark and all the other gospels speak of a wild man in the wilderness who was a voice preparing the way for the Lord. This man was baptizing the people as a representation of what God was going to do in their lives. This baptism was a baptism of repentance of the people choosing to separate themselves from the darkness. However, none of us can do that on our own for long. Then comes in this child of light now a man and he enters the water. John baptizes him and when he comes out of the water the Holy Spirit comes down from heaven to rest on him. In this act of baptism Christ showed the world what he was going to do. He reveals God’s plan to save the world from the darkness. He separates the light from the darkness through baptism. This is a baptism separation.
In Acts chapter 19 Paul enters Ephesus and finds some disciples there. These are new disciples who have come to believe and were all baptized in water. However, Paul asks them if they had received the Holy Spirit when they came to believe. They were unaware of this Holy Spirit and were never taught that it even existed. Paul asks them what baptism they had received and they explained that they received John’s baptism in water. Paul then explains to these Ephesians that this baptism was a baptism of repentance to show what was to come and what to believe that was coming after him. Finally, Paul baptizes them in the name of Jesus and they all receive the Holy Spirit. They all receive the light and the darkness is separated from them.
Through this baptism of the Holy Spirit there is a separation between darkness and light. All our sins are exposed into the light of day and then washed away to be no more. Instead of being children of darkness we become children of light because the light is now living in us. Baptism is both a representation and an action of God separating the light from the darkness. Once again this is not something that could be done on our own but it requires the grace of God to do so. Only God has the power to perform this separation in our lives.
20 years ago, I was walking in darkness and believing in darkness. I left my church because I did not understand the light from the Word and it was easier to understand the darkness of the world. I spent a year living in that darkness doing what I pleased and living as I pleased. I was not a bad kid like a bully or anything. Nor did I use drugs or participate in violence as some did. However, I still had a darkness in my life that was self-seeking. However, one day I was invited to go on a trip to work at a school located near a Native American reservation. The night we had left on that trip a darkness had overcome one of my classmates and he took his own life. This difference between darkness and light began to become very real to me at that moment and from then on, I began a journey of education about the light.
Fast forward one year I was back at that same school to finally accept and rededicate my life for Christ and received the Holy Spirit upon my life. Upon that moment I felt the darkness of my life become exposed and the light shone through to wipe all that darkness away. A couple years later I received the baptism of repentance to announce to the world what Christ and the Holy Spirit had done in me by separating me from my darkness.
I believe that the scripture reveals that both the baptism in water and the baptism of the Holy Spirit work hand in hand with each other. The water represents and decision made by us and then the Holy Spirit represents a decision made by God. Either way both are a baptism of separation. They represent a decision to separate ourselves from the darkness and a decision of the Holy Spirit to help keep us separated. This then allows us to continually live in the light as He is in the light. This also reveals to us what is to come. One day Christ will return and once again separate the light from the darkness this time for all eternity. In the mean time we believers in the light are to be as a light in this dark world and boy do we see darkness these days in the events that have unfolded this past week. However, we have nothing to fear from this as our hope is not in man but our hope is in the light that is Christ the Lord.