I think most people are familiar with watermarks. Originally a watermark is a more or less transparent image or text applied to a piece of paper, another image to either protect the original image or make it harder to copy the item, e.g., money stamp watermarks. If you hold the paper in the right light, the watermark appears. The watermark gives the paper authenticity.
As Christians, we are marked. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we read, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30) As Jesus’ followers, we are authenticated by God’s Spirit. God has claimed us as his own and has placed his watermark upon us. In our baptisms, we are marked and sealed with God’s Spirit. As a result, our lives must reflect God’s ownership. When people look at our lives, they should be able to tell to whom we belong.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul was addressing the life change that comes from following Jesus. Paul speaks of a new lifestyle as Christ’s followers. Paul writes about putting away falsehoods, speaking the truth, changing behaviors, watching our speech, putting away wrath and anger, and offering forgiveness to one another. If our lives do not match our watermark, then Paul says we will grieve the Holy Spirit. To grieve means to make sad or sorrowful. It means to cause sorrow, pain, or distress. It saddens God when our baptism marks us, but then we do not follow the ways of our Lord.
Following Jesus in our world is not easy. The temptation to join the crowd and forget our watermark is easy. We end up blending in, losing our identity in Christ, and failing to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the world. Instead, our lives must exemplify the Christ we came to follow if we are to be authentic. Unfortunately, what the world often experiences from Christians and the church comes across as a cheap imitation. Our confession of faith does not match our daily living. C. S. Lewis in his classic work; Mere Christianity stated, “When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world.” The world will only true believe the good news of Christ Jesus when they see it in us.
As we live our daily lives as followers of Jesus, let us commit ourselves to God’s mark upon our lives. May we be a Christian not merely in name, but in word and in deed. Let us encourage one another in our walk as we all stumble at times. And let us hold one another accountable in our faith so that the world will see our watermark and know to whom we belong.