The Beauty of Symbols
Baptism is one of the most beautiful symbols found in Christian history. It’s right up there in my book with the Lord’s supper – which is surprising considering the fact that baptism doesn’t naturally have any food involved. The thing about symbols is they’re just like rocks – remember our old friend Ebenezer (from Tuesday). Symbols last through the ages and communicate something deeper than themselves.
Think through the symbol of baptism. Feel free to reread Romans 6:1-4
<> What are the different parts of the symbol (people and inanimate objects)?
<> What does each part symbolize?
<> Think deeper than just the surface level parts of the symbol. What are the implications of the symbol of baptism?
<> Why is the person dunked backwards?
When you really start to study symbols you will find that they are beautiful, multi-leveled pictures of incredible truths. A very unique guy getting married once decided that he didn’t want any of the traditional wedding symbols in his wedding (you know, unity candle, wedding rings, veils, etc.). He didn’t feel like they meant anything and he wanted his ceremony to have substance. So he started researching and creatively trying to plan some new cooler deeply meaningful aspects to his wedding ceremony. As he studied, he came to the conclusion that the traditional wedding symbols were the most beautiful meaningful symbols he could find.
The Problem with Symbols
The problem with symbols is that sometimes we get confused and forget what the symbol represents and we start to think that the symbol is the point. Entire church denominations split because we cannot agree on how to carry out traditions. When this is going on, the symbol has become an idol that we pridefully worship more than the God who instituted the idea. This is not a new problem:
Go read Colossians 2:16-19
<> What is the point of religious symbol, tradition, festival, etc.?
<> According to vs. 19 what is ultimately the problem with someone who proudly cares too much about symbol?
We should be celebrators of symbols. They are amazing gifts designed to remind us and help us grasp complex ideas with concrete pictures. But when we fail to understand that they are merely shadows of the real substance – we become religiously disconnected from JESUS. That’s unacceptable.
On the other hand when you start to understand that Jesus is the substance behind all the shadows, symbols on a bigger level can become a source of worship and a missional tool. The truth is that every day is filled with thousands of pictures that can point us toward to Jesus. Romantic comedies, regular interactions between people and infinite examples from nature can proclaim little truths about who God is (Romans 1:20). When you open your eyes to these symbols and shadows, they can push you toward Jesus and help give you common ground to help people see Him who don’t know Him.
<> Do you need to repent for caring too much about symbols and not enough about Jesus who is the point of the symbols?
<> Do you look for symbols that are pointing you toward Jesus throughout your day?