When we think about the mission of the Church, we often refer to the first part of the Great Commission in Matthew 28- to go and make disciples. But there is a second part that we don't often think about- "baptizing them." Yes, we are called to make disciples of all peoples, but we are also called, or commanded, to baptize them.
Why is this important? To explain this, we must first understand what baptism is, and what it is not. Baptism is a sacrament. Ok, so what does that mean? St. Augustine described a sacrament as 'an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace.'
Baptism is not merely a symbol, like a flag or a team logo. These things only represent the actual thing but are not part of it. A sign, however, is connected to and points to something else. Like smoke, that when seen, indicates a fire, a sign is connected to the thing it represents. Similarly, baptism is tied to a person's inner experience, the receiving of God's grace. The knowledge of God is not just between your ears. It's not just about your soul. It's ALL of you. That's what a sacrament teaches us. It brings the tangible, the outer senses, into the inward experience of a new life in Christ. In baptism, the freshness of the water, the movement, the sound, reminds us of the freshness and awakening of our hearts and minds to Christ.
Sure, we mustn't mistake this outward sign with the One who is the source of the sign. Baptism is not really about the water, but about the author of the grace behind the water. And because it is about God and not about our faithfulness and righteousness, it matters not what age we are when we are baptized. Some might object that babies and toddlers need to be baptized since they are pure. The truth is that all of us, regardless of our age, still need God's grace-- the toddler with the tantrum and the tyrant with the tirade, the selfish, the broken, the addict, the enabler, the sick in spirit, the sinner.
Baptism is a casting call for broken people. It is a way people get 'fully in,' not dancing around the edge.
God is calling His people to come to the Living Water of Christ, to receive His grace, and live a refreshed, renewed life. God is calling us to share this message with others, to bring them to the water, and then to be a part of the outward sign of baptism that represents the inward sign of the invisible grace they have received in Christ.
Right now we are praying that God will place us in such a way that we are positioned and equipped to share Jesus with others. Will you join us in praying for whomever God is calling to the water of baptism?