There are some months in the calendar year that we appreciate more than others. January – New Years; March – St. Patrick’s Day; April – well, fools enjoy the first; May – Spring; June – Weddings; July – Independence; August – School starts; September – Labor day; October – Halloween; November – be thankful; December – Christmas.
But a month that gets left behind is February. We have claimed it for Black History Month but we don’t even celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. in February but instead, near his birthday in January. So, while each month we can have a claim to fame, February seems to be left in the dust. In fact, even though it is the second month in our calendar year, maybe it isn’t even second best but twelfth best with little fame and fortune to its name.
If you do a simple Google search of the meaning of the month’s name, pagan and all, it will come up with “The word February comes from the Roman festival of purification called Februa where people were ritually washed.”[i] All of a sudden, the month has more interest – well at least for nerds like me. There is meaning to the month, it is a time of washing.
Now, I should warn you, I was born and raised and still am a Christian. Some of you may stop reading this blog right now because I mentioned the meaning of the name, “February” and now you want to jump to conclusions before you even get to my point. No. I am not celebrating an ancient pagan god. Rather, I am going to make a claim, right here and right now, we should, however, still celebrate a time of washing even in our Christendom Western World.
The idea of baptism is not a new own to the Judeo-Christian world either. In fact, you can find claims in 1 Corinthians (10:1-2) and 1 Peter (3:20-22) where Paul and Peter both talk about the idea that the ancient Hebrew people passed through some sort of water, spiritually symbolizing a baptism. So, what is the definition of baptism? Well, according to a definition from Goggle it is, “…symbolizing purification or regeneration and admission to the Christian Church.”[ii] I think that is a horrible definition, but unfortunately accurate for the concept the Christian and Catholic Churches use today.
I’m going to define baptism as a symbol of repentance and surrender to Christ, that wherever you go, He will be with you and save you from your sins.[iii] In this sense, the Hebrews when they passed through the Red Sea were baptized into the faith of Moses and Moses’ God that He could save them and when Noah boarded the boat with his wife, three sons and three daughter-in-laws, they were saved because they believed upon the spiritual and literal salvation that God would bring as they built the ark and floated above the chaos.
Baptism does not equal salvation, lets make sure we are clear on that before we move on. The Catholic Church will argue differently, but from a PROTESTant-Christian individual, it is nothing more than a symbolic representation that you believe in my definition of baptism above.
What does all this have to do with February? Simple, you need to be washed, your sins stink. That’s ok, so do mine. Baptism IS the answer to stinky sins. This doesn’t mean that once we are baptized, we will never sin again – that is just foolishness. What it does mean is that I have accepted that Jesus forgives me and I do my best to follow His will, but I will stumble but He will be with me. (Last month we talked about our condition of continually being in Sin (capital S, remember?) – our human nature we live in is a Sinful one.) Baptism is an initiation into understanding the love of God more deeply, not a graduation proving that you will never sin again.
My favorite verse, well one of my many favorite verses, is John 3:17, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (NKJV). The New Century Version says it like this, “God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him.”
That is amazing! February should be a time we recognize, again, that Jesus saves! We who have been baptized should recognize that we are children of the Most High God and that He loves us so much that He doesn’t judge us, but saves us. Likewise, those that are contemplating baptism should understand that it is about the love of God to save, not the guilt of sins to punish. February, even with its pagan roots in the nomenclature, reminds us of the love of God in washing us clean. King David, a sinner through acts of adultery and murder, just to name a couple, wrote in his Psalm asking God for repentance from those sinful acts, said, “Wash me clean from my guilt” (Ps. 51:1, NLT). Take this month of washing, February, and remember what God has done for you each day of this month:
[i] Retrieved December 19, 2018 from https://www.dictionary.com/e/february/
[ii] Retrieved December 19, 2018 from https://www.google.com/search?q=define+baptism&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS759US759&oq=define+baptism&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.1626j1j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
[iii] Matthew 8:28:20; John 3:17