Today we continue our series of reflections on Rowan Williams’s book, Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer.
As we continue to hear what Williams has to say about baptism, he reminds us that, being baptized into the life of Christ, we partake of and grow into his identity. One classic way of thinking about the identity and calling of Jesus is to consider the three roles of prophet, priest, and king.
For many centuries the Church has thought of Jesus as anointed by God to live out a threefold identity: that of prophet, priest and king. The baptized person identifies with Jesus in these three ways of being human which characterize and define his unique humanity. As we grow into his life and humanity these three ways come to characterize us as well. The life of the baptized is a life of prophecy and priesthood and royalty. (p. 12)
To speak of our lives like that certainly sounds heady, but in fact, this baptismal identity works itself out in down-to-earth ways.
As those who share the life of Christ the Prophet, we “express and ask important and readily forgotten questions” (p. 14) of ourselves, the church, and the world in which we live.
As those who share the life of Christ the Priest, we “are called upon to mend shattered relationships between God and the world, through the power of Christ and his Spirit. As baptized people, we are in the business of building bridges. We are in the business, once again, of seeing situations where there is breakage, damage and disorder, and bringing into those situations the power of God in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in order to rebuild something” (p. 15)
As those who share the life of Christ the King, we find that our “‘royal’ calling is about how we freely engage in shaping our lives and our human environment in the direction of God’s justice, showing in our relationships and our engagement with the world something of God’s own freedom, God’s own liberty to heal and restore” (p. 16).
As we saw in our recent series on Genesis, baptism restores us to our original human vocation, which is that we should represent God in the world and live within his blessing, so that we will flourish upon the earth, take care of creation as God’s stewards, and also actively engage and overcome evil. This is exactly what Rowan Williams is saying when he says we are baptized into the life, identity, and vocation of Jesus Christ.
God created this world for shalom. Jesus came to restore shalom. Now, in his name we are baptized so that we may begin to experience his shalom in our lives and participate with God in making shalom a reality throughout the world.
We arise from the waters of baptism to be shalom-makers. And blessed are the shalom-makers, for they will be called the children of God.