I found it scandalizing. And confusing. And sad.
I recently saw a video clip of a woman offering tips on how to make an adult baptism stylish. I struggled to understand why a baptism needed to be stylish and was concerned that the point of baptism — an outward expression of faith in Jesus Christ — had been missed.
I still feel the main purpose behind baptism was lacking in the clip, but I am reticent to judge harshly the faith of a person I ‘know’ only through a 90 second spot. As I reflected further, it occurred to me how often baptism and styles of worship are sources of division in the church. Perhaps that’s because, at least to some degree, we’re all missing the point?
It’s not about technique.
Infant or adult…covenant or believer…sprinkle or immerse. I have my own opinion on the topic of baptism, and while I hold it firmly, I recognize two things: (1) it’s not an ‘essential’ upon which everyone must agree and (2) it’s not about me. It’s about the One who upholds this covenant, not my profession in it nor the means by which I receive it. It’s God who seals the Believer and is faithful to His promise. Not me or my expression of faith.
It’s not about style.
Some folks dress ‘up’ for church as an offering of sorts, a way to give God their best. Others fall on the knowledge that God receives us just as we are and recognize that outward appearance has little to do with inward heart conditions. Either approach is fine in my book because, again, it’s not about us. Worship is about God. We should wear garments of praise (Isaiah 61:3) and be clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12). All the time. If we’re worried about someone else doing it differently than we do, we’re probably not focused on the right thing anymore. (Ahem.)
It is about celebration.
When someone sees the Truth and responds with a desire to be baptized, celebration and giving glory to God are the only fitting responses. When we gather together in worship — be it out in God’s creation, in a church, or on a road trip — God is pleased. The prodigal’s father threw a lavish party upon his son’s return, giving him the best cloak and killing the fatted calf (Luke 15:11-32). But his priority wasn’t being stylish, rather it was rejoicing at, and implicitly commenting on, the significance of his son’s return.
In the end, there’s just no way to make a baptism more — or less — special than it already is. And that’s something we should all rejoice in.
Christians too readily turn on one another. If you choose to watch the clip (here), please guard your heart and comments from judgment.
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