I've just returned from Cancun, Mexico with my family. Beautiful place, relaxing, warm, very refreshing. But you need a passport to get there. No passport, no leaving the country, no vacation, nada.
The passport tells others who you are. It's got your vitals on it, at least those needed by immigration officials. Your full name, your birthplace, your date of birth, your citizenship. It's you, as far as border control is concerned. Sure, there's more to you than your passport...but if you want to travel internationally, it's the one piece of ID you can't afford to forget.
It begs the question: what symbols in our lives identify us? What forms of ID are most accurate? Is it our birth certificate showing who our parents are and when and where we were born? Is it our state driver's license? Is it the diploma on the wall, the letters behind our name, our bank balance or financial bottom line? Who ARE we--and what symbols can accurately convey that? Most importantly, are such tokens big enough, resilient enough, enduring enough? (Because if we define ourselves by our role as a parent, that will change; if it's our career, that will come to an end; if it's our possessions, those can be lost or stolen; if it's our athletic achievements, those will diminish or be surpassed by others. If it's our relational status, it's vulnerable to breakups, divorce, or death.)
For Christ-followers, our ID is found in baptism--our identification by faith with Christ's life, death, and resurrection. Paradoxically, it's only here in our burial beneath the waters, that we die to our old, false selves and are reborn to our new, true selves. This is what gives the Apostle Paul the audacity to say, "For I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:1-11 is also very good).
This identification endures the test of time and tragedy. This passport carries us to eternal life. This symbol connotes a citizenship that crosses all borders and customs. Only this identity can withstand life's challenges and changes. What's your passport say?