John came, who baptized in the wilderness and preached the baptism of repentance unto remission of sins. Mark 1:4 (ASV)
Here he was, this voice in the wilderness, and the people flocked to hear him. Something within them needed filling, and his words moved them into action. He awoke within them an awareness of the distance growing between them and God. The people who drew enough attention to the matter were willing to do something about it. John baptized them as an outward expression of what was happening within their hearts.
Today we continue to baptize in many of the branches that fall under the name of Christianity. It remains a symbol and continues the hold an important significance in the life of the believer. However, even in cases of the highest of offerings that we could lift up to our Lord, we may fail to realize when the enemy plays us a dirty turn.
When we speak of baptism we talk of this outward expression. But the emphasis must be kept free from the tampering of the deceiver. This expression should not be allowed to grow larger than the condition of soul from which it stems. Far beyond the act we trace down into the roots and find a heart that is turning. This heart senses its need for God and realizes its insufficiency. Keen desire is found to turn from the pursuit of selfish ends, and return to a right relation with the Lord above.
Unfortunately when we observe the tradition today, many times we get lost in the action and the expression. For the act to receive the desired effect with the One to whom it should be directed, we should make all effort to draw the attention to what is happening within. The repentance cannot be made merely from former acts, but from where they stem. It is our nature that needs change and this is impossible by tampering with the outward expressions. We will need to go much deeper to the very reason we do things.
A heart which serves its own desires cannot please God. A person who lives his or her life as they see fit, has not stood in the presence of the Almighty God. Once a person is sufficiently turned from his or her natural fallen nature, our repentance and remittal can bow a soul to and open it before that Presence. This state of heart is highly pleasing to our Lord. A soul moved as such to be baptized, will find approval of the One to whom the expression is truly made.
Dear Jesus, we would make straight the path for You. You came not to draw us to empty outward expressions but to You in all actuality. Therefore, help us look past any lesser or more shallow rituals or beliefs. Guide us deep into our center core, to the soul which moves us into action. Take us to our very nature, and then show us how to turn that over to You. What lives on within our hearts from this moment on, let it be to serve You and lift You ever higher.