So I baptized Asher Slaten this morning. Actually, his daddy baptized him but I was there along with many of you and was grateful for the opportunity to encourage Aaron and Camille with God's promise for their son as they help him follow Jesus in the days ahead.
I think baptism is super simple and incredibly complicated. God uses something as basic as water to communicate something about his love in a way that is both mysterious and profound. God condescends in providing tangible evidence of a love that defies convention and can never be secured through our own effort.
It's good to consider our own baptism whenever someone else is baptized. So here are three things that Asher Slaten taught us this morning in our gathering:
1. First Steps Are Important
Before Asher's baptism, he shuffled around the room because he's one year old and one year olds weren't made to sit still. But it wasn't that long ago that Asher decided to quit crawling and take his first steps. First steps matter. You can't run before you can walk. And you can't walk until you take your first step.
Baptism is the first step in our life with God. It's a divine flare declaring God's love for us. It locks in God's promise to us - he will never abandon us, even when we wander away from and rebel against him.
2. Goldfish Are Meant To Be Eaten
I've never had a snack while I was preaching but it didn't bother me at all that Asher had a snack trap full of goldfish when he came up front to be baptized. Little kids need to eat and goldfish were meant to be eaten. No one keeps goldfish under glass as a collector's item.
Your baptism was meant to be eaten. In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, anyone initiated into the covenant community was expected to internalize the truth of God's love and mission. The love we are promised is a love we are supposed to digest until it animates our life together.
3. Asher Has A Standing Invitation
Asher is now part of Christ Community Church. We distinguish between the visible church (those who profess faith and their baptized children) and the invisible church (those who have been chosen and granted new life because of Jesus). On this side of heaven, we'll never know if Asher (or anyone else) is part of the invisible church. Our hope is that someday soon, Asher will put his life in God's hands and tell us with his words and his life that he is a follower of Jesus. And while we wait for that day, our hope is to display the patient persistence of God as he invites Asher to become part of His forever family.
So is Asher a Christian? I don't know. I know that being baptized doesn't make you a follower of Jesus. I know that all roads in Asher's discipleship lead towards a public profession of faith someday. And I know that Asher has a standing invitation from God to follow him for the rest of his life. Because that's what baptism is and that's what baptism does.