What I think of Baptism.

I don’t prefer it.  If it were up to me we wouldn’t have to be baptized for the remission of sins.  It’s just too inconvenient and controversial.  And I’m selfish.  When the church service is winding down I’m anticipating the restoration of my freedom.  The freedom to move freely.  To talk openly.  To eat lunch.  To be followed by a nap.  When the invitation song is being sung I dread someone will go foward for baptism.  It’s not that I don’t want them to be saved.  I do.  It’s just I wish they didn’t have to be baptized to get saved.  It’s a real time killer.  Then there’s the comments family, friends and ministers feel compelled to say “at a time like this.”  It’s little consolation to me, that for the sake of saving time, these things are said while the victim is changing “in the back.”  And after the baptism,  God help us all, because we’ll be here till tomorrow if that certain elder is asked to say the second closing prayer.  Which follows the comments he feels compelled to make “at a time like this.”  Which means my lunch time keeps getting pushed back.  Dispensing with the physical requirements of baptism would help everybody keep to their “gonna do’s.”  Which are to be followed by a nap.  If it were up to me eating lunch by noon on Sunday and in bed by Two would be the ONLY requirement for salvation.

And speaking of changing.  When I was baptized I had to remove my street clothes and don an Elvis style white jumpsuit sans rhinestones (Remember?).  The rhinestones would have helped because as it turns out the jumpsuit became a see through jumpsuit when wet.  My sister and I were baptized at the same time.  We were at the age we preferred to keep certain things under wraps.  The jumpsuits didn’t help.  (Oops!  I was re-reading this part and thought, “This calls for an edit.  Lest there be any misunderstanding let me assure you I am STILL at the age where I prefer to keep certain things under wraps when I’m in public.  And I don’t anticipate that changing any time soon.)

 The baptizer doesn’t get left off the hook either.  Although he does get to keep his street clothes on.  But they are going to get wet.  Frankly, I’ve sat under rain clouds that offered better protection than the silly waders which are provided.  If it were up to me clicking your heels together three times at the lunch table, precisely at noon on Sunday,  would be the ONLY requirement for salvation.  That way we get to keep our clothes on AND eat at the same time.

And speaking of getting wet.  I’ll confess, I work really hard to get my hair just so.  Dunking it in water and then presenting it to the public is the last thing I want to do.  I’m sure lots of ladies would agree with me.  And they also work diligently to “put their faces on” to please the men-folk.  Running mascara.  Gross.  If it were up to me having perfectly styled hair would be the ONLY requirement for salvation.  This would also allow those of us who do care about our hair and such to look smashing if we choose to go out for lunch by noon on Sunday. 

 Sorry John.  Sorry Al.  I guess ya’ll will just have to remain “unchurched” until you die.  Unless you staple something up there.  Hair-like.  Dark brown like mine.  And when I say staple I don’t mean glue.

One last point.  I don’t prefer baptism because it is so controversial.  Why?  I don’t know.  I’m wondering, if baptism is essential, who in the world or hell would have an agenda to purposefully muddy the waters?  Someone who is permenantly looking to settle a score.  Hmm?  Be that as it may since baptism is hugely unpopular and supposedly impossible to define maybe we should stop doing it.  If it were up to me the ONLY requirement for salvation would be a free for all.  That way everybody is happy.  And we can quit apologizing for practicing baptism.  And everybody would like us in the same way everybody liked Jesus.

I don’t prefer baptism in the same way I don’t prefer the speed limit.  My car will do 65 in third gear.  However, I also prefer to obey the law.  To avoid the consequences. 

The officer asks, “Son, what’s your hurry?”  I say, “Oh, no hurry.  It’s just that I prefer to go 95.”  As he writes the ticket or places my hands in cuffs I protest, “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?  What gives you the right to punish me?”  He responds. “It’s the law!” 

 I thought my personal preferences made void the Law.  They don’t.  So, even though I prefer 95 mph I also find that I can simultaneously prefer to avoid the fine. 

I don’t prefer the speed limit.  But I don’t prefer paying the fines even more.

  Since the only thing I have power over is my response to the speed limit

guess which preference will submit to the other?

Here’s my point, what I prefer doesn’t matter in regards to the revealed mind of Christ.  I believe baptism is essential, and that’s what I teach, because Jesus Christ Himself told Peter what to say on the day of Pentecost.  Contrary to what others may prefer to believe Jesus said these things in words that were, and are,  quite easy to define. I reject the notion that, on the most important issue of any person’s life, Jesus would purposefully, or accidently lead us astray.  Why would He?  Why would He leave us, who live so far removed from his ministry on earth, to the whims of our deceitful hearts?  HE WOULD NOT do such a cruel thing, would He?

However,  because I believe baptism is essential,  doesn’t mean I have to prefer it.  I really don’t.  It’s just become too hot a topic.  I hate controversy and I hate to be thought of as narrow minded or opinionated.  I guess I’ve got a pride problem.  However, my dad taught me we don’t always get our way.  He taught me that submitting to authority is a good thing.  And, he also made it very clear to me that if I preferred to do things in his house “my way” I was free to leave.  I happened to prefer free food and clothes more than  I did “my way.”

 When I teach baptism today I do so as an act of submission.  Afterall, the one who said it is supposed to be our King.  I’d like to think He finds such humility winsome.  He might say, “Jesus, listen to what Craig is telling that person.  He’s saying something he’d rather not, but his desire to please me supercedes his preferences and opinions.  And I am pleased.  Well done!”

I don’t prefer baptism.  But I don’t prefer being lost to Jesus even more.

Since the only thing I have power over is my response to baptism

guess which preference will submit to the other?