I remember my first car chase. I say car chase. I was on my bicycle, and slapped a car for stopping on the yellow-box junction outside Oval tube. He reversed out of the queue and chased me down a side-street where I lost him.
I remember the first time I was punched. It was days after the car chase, in almost the same place. I had slapped the white van for pulling out on me when I was cycling home from work; the white van man chased me, and I didn’t lose him. He overtook me, waited for me, and punched me.
After this I took the bus to work.
I assume both those driver had driving licenses. Their driving licenses didn‘t mean they were driving well. The fact that I have my cycling proficiency certificate from 1987 didn’t mean I was cycling well either.
The proof of ability to drive is in the driving, not the certificate. The proof of ability to cycle is in the cycling, not the certificate.
I have another certificate. My birth certificate proves that a birth took place. But it doesn’t prove that I am still alive. What proves I am alive? Me.
Jesus talks about us being born again, or born from above. It’s like being born the first time, except that the first gulp of life-source we take is not air, but the Spirit. In the Greek, the word is pnuema, as in pneumatic tyre. Filled with pneuma.
Often when this happens we get a certificate. We remember this day. Like our first birth, we rightly celebrate it, but unless we keep on breathing the Spirit our baptism certificate, like our birth certificate, is meaningless. Interesting history, but it doesn’t prove life. And this applies whether you are baptised as a baby or a believing adult. Because neither prove on-going life. Anyone can get wet.
We may go faithfully to church every week; we may just come for a baptism. But the challenge is the same for all of us. Are we living as new creations? Are we living as those who have been born from the spirit, breathing in him as our source of life, reconciled to God and changed from the inside out?
That is proof of life. Certified.