Baptism is the watery declaration of who we, the washing away of who we are not, and the beginning of how we are to live out our lives as God’s beloved ones. First of all, baptism proclaims our already-real identity as God’s beloved children. We don’t become God’s children in baptism; rather, who we are is revealed.
Second, baptism washes away all the stuff that isn’t part of our belovedness—sin. Sin is a helpful word, although we often try to avoid using it because it has been misused as a way to judge and condemn. The root meaning of sin is actually about “missing the mark.” Think of shooting an arrow at an archery target, missing the bull’s eye, and maybe even the target itself. That’s what sin is. It’s not hitting the mark of belovedness in how we think, speak, and act. Baptism is how we wash away all those misses and get back to who we truly are so we can hit the bull’s eye of our lives.
Finally, baptism is a beginning of living a life of belovedness. It’s our calling to join the School of Belovedness as disciples of Jesus. Like an acorn becoming an oak tree, we need to grow into who we are in our thinking, speaking, and doing.