Thursday, October 20, 2005
Baptism, Teah's is Coming Soon
Why do we baptize babies in the church? I would guess that many of us don't have very good answers. It's not a cut and dry question with an easy answer, especially for those churches that baptize babies. Some churches believe that when you become a Christian you are supposed to make a decision to get baptized. That makes a lot of sense, it's biblical. Baptism symbolized an actual thing happening in ones life. It symbolizes and somehow holds the truth that as we go under the water we are dyeing to ourselves and as we come back up we are made alive in Christ. Baptism is not to be taken lightly, it symbolizes death, the willingness to die for Jesus. And it also symbolized our life found now in Jesus Christ. But what about infant baptism? From very early days of the church, babies were being baptized. The reason we don't understand infant baptism is partly cultural. Infant baptism is done as a covenant. God's promises and covenant with his people is understood and declared through the baptism of a baby. The problem is that our individualistic culture has trouble understanding anything about religion in terms of a covenant people. We understand our faith as being a PERSONAL relationship with Jesus. Baptism in some respects, especially with adults, is about the personal salvation of an individual. But baptism also symbolizes and declares the truth about a baby being a part of the covenant people, the church that Jesus Christ calls his own. And infant baptism acknowledges that salvation is in God's hands, not ours. Our baptism is not something we choose as a baby, rather we acknowledge the reality that God is in the process of saving his children, even the little baby. BJ described baptism in Craig Barnes' words to me today. He said that in infant baptism God is saying I love you for the first time. Can you remember saying I love you to someone for the first time and waiting with a pregnant pause for a response. The pregnant pause of baptism is long, it includes all the time before we confirm that we are a part of God's covenant people when we finally make a decision on our part to follow Jesus. When we decide to follow Jesus we are saying "I love you too." That's why traditionally we have confirmation classes, they're designed for people to confirm their baptism, confirm their love for Jesus. But don't think you can figure out how God works in baptism, its not something to be figured out. Baptism is something to live by.