- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 24, 2006

The following are excerpts from yesterday’s sermon at Fairfax Community Church in Fairfax, by senior pastor Rod Stafford.

One of the job descriptions of all superheroes in the movies is to make the world a better place. In the movie “Superman Returns,” you find out at the beginning of the movie that Superman has been on sabbatical for five years. During that time, Lois Lane has written a Pulitzer Prize-winning essay called, “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman.” Ouch.

When Superman returns, thus the name of the movie, he confronts Lois on the article and says to her, “You wrote that the world doesn’t need a savior, but every day I hear people crying for one.”

We live in a broken, sinful world. And if we could hear what God hears, we would hear the cries of a world that desperately needs a savior. A world that desperately needs to know that there is a God who loves them unconditionally. A world that desperately needs to know that someone loves them so much that he was willing to lay down His life for them.

Now God has one plan to communicate that message to the world. And it involves us — the church. We are His strategy. The God of the universe has decided to take the greatest mission — and the greatest message — the world has ever known and entrust it to a group of ordinary people like us, people who sometimes really struggle to do the right thing, people who don’t always walk by faith, people who sometimes wonder if we will ever really change in certain areas of our life.

How does the God of the universe take a ragtag, spiritually frail group of people like us and turn us into a force that is so powerful that the Bible says that not even the gates of Hell themselves can withstand our attack? In other words, how do we go from being “zeros” to “heroes”? How does that transformation take place?

Well, that transformation starts at the same point it does with every superhero. It starts with a new identity. Bruce Wayne becomes Batman. Peter Parker becomes Spider-Man. Kal-El becomes Clark Kent, who becomes Superman.

The Bible says that when you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, your identity changes. You become a new person in Christ. Christ lives in you through His Holy Spirit. And you now live in Christ. His righteousness becomes your righteousness. His holiness becomes your holiness. His purity becomes your purity. His death becomes your death, and His resurrection becomes your resurrection. We’ve been made new.

That’s the reality that baptism symbolizes. It symbolizes what Christ has done for us — His death, burial and resurrection. But it also symbolizes what Christ has done in us: In Him, we have died to our old sinful self and have been made a new person in Him.

That’s why Paul wraps up Ephesians 4 by saying: “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles (those who don’t know Jesus) … put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires … and put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

In other words, Paul is saying to them, and to us, “Live out your baptism.” Remember, you are not the person you used to be, so stop living like the old person you used to be. Stop living like the world. Start living like the new person you have become in Christ. Marketplace ministry is an area where the church has often failed to really understand what it means to “live out our baptism.”

God wants us to live out our baptism when we are scattered as well as when we are gathered. We are not the body of Christ only when we come together. We are the body of Christ when we go out into the world as well.

God’s call on our lives is for us to live out our baptism. To realize that in Christ we are new persons called to have new attitudes about the words we say, about the way we treat people, about the way we use our gifts, talents, passions and abilities, both when we are gathered and when we are scattered. And the reason God wants us to live out our baptism is because He does not want His transforming work to stop with us. He wants to use us so that others can experience the same grace, the same forgiveness and the same newness of life.

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