My friend Chris is an Orthodox priest. When people receive baptism in his congregation, they speak words from the most ancient Christian rites. At one point in the liturgy they “renounce Satan and all his ways.” As part of a repeated series of promises, they turn to the world and all its luring charms and spit on it—literally. Then they turn toward God and his church and offer their allegiance.
Sometimes, while people spit, they burst into a giggle. The ancient rite seems silly and old fashioned. But Father Chris, not one to take such rituals lightly, admonishes them, imploring, “Don’t you see how serious this is? This is real. This is a commitment. This is a new direction for your life.”
Yes, it is. For all of us. Whether we are baptized young or old, our baptism sets us in a new direction. We plead to be led away from temptation. We are wise to pray this petition Jesus taught: “Deliver us from the evil one.”
Life inside and outside the church involves constant temptation, and we often mess up. We tell a white lie. We exaggerate. We gossip. We dodge our sin. We skip a confession. And all the while we try to make ourselves look better than we are.
But our missteps have profound consequences. They certainly did for Ananias and Sapphira! There’s a reason baptism is a symbol of dying and rising.
Father, forgive us for minimizing our sin. Forgive us for justifying ourselves. Keep us honest. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.
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