In the year of 1527, Michael Sattler and his wife along with some other Anabaptist Christians were arrested, tried, and convicted of being heretics because they believed in, taught, and practiced believer’s baptism. Such practice was seen not only as a rejection of their infant baptism (hence the name “Anabaptist” which means “against baptism”) but also as a rejection of the Christian faith. Having been condemned as heretics, the group was drowned to death except for Michael Sattler who was tortured and burned at the stake unto death.
In a part of the world where much religious freedom is granted, it is hard to conceive of such cruelty. Nevertheless, we understand the deep conviction of faith required to endure such suffering as a follower of Jesus. That begs the question, what sort of conviction can sustain such faith?
The answer to that question begins, of course, with the conviction that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ who died for our sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day (cf. 1 Cor 15.3-4). However, the the conviction that sustains such faith also understands the liberating work that God has achieved in Jesus Christ.
In his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul writes of this liberating work of God saying, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins… And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Col 2.13, 15; NIV). The Anabaptists believed this. They believed that they were forgiven of sin. They believed that God had freed them from the powers by disarming the powers. That’s the liberating work of God.
As the Easter holiday nears there will be many wonderful moments including Easter Egg Hunts, Easter Dinners, way too much chocolate candy, and worship. Let’s enjoy it all. But let’s also remember above all: God liberates us!