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Kid's Baptism

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When my daughter Kristie was nine, she began to talk about a “burden” for Ethiopia.  Then she began to talk about a call to missions.  Obviously she was far too young to be aware of a “call” of God on her life.  I completely ignored it and dismissed it as some whim or fancy among numerous others to follow as she grew older.

I have to quickly tell you that the above statement is absolutely untrue.  Whenever my children began to speak of God’s interest in their lives and “leadings” that they were having, I took it seriously.  In many ways children are better able to hear God than adults are.  It’s not that God does not call or lead adults but more that we become so encumbered by our lives that we cannot contemplate the possibility that at some point we might be “called” to walk away from it as well.

Would God actually do that?  Call me to walk away?  Jesus asked a very religious, very accomplished, very respected, very rich young man to walk away from everything.

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” [1]

I think that He still has the prerogative to call adults today out of their station in life for His purposes.  To live with the firm conclusion that God might never call me to step out in service to him could choke the vitality out of a person’s spiritual experience.  As long as you belong to God, you are His property.  The Bible is full of stories of people who were uprooted and redirected and life is full of the same stories.  I think that there are times within the Christian community that we see the call of God to be like puberty.  If we can make it through that period of time without being “activated” then it’s a done deal. 

Scary isn’t it.  It was to me when I was a 13 year old child and I knew before I was saved that God wanted me to be a preacher.  I was convinced that if I refused, I could not possibly make heaven.

Paul said:

“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel![2]

So I took this seriously and finally surrendered.  You see if we live a closed spiritual existence, not allowing ourselves to consider what God may want from us then we choke the life out of our spirituality.  It then becomes cold, rigid, formal and dead.

Here was the response of the rich young ruler.

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. [3]

So, when a child expresses spiritual leading, a desire to obey God in baptism, what do we do?  Do we reinforce the fact that God is stirring their hearts, take them seriously and baptize them or do we tell them to wait until they better understand? 

The greatest understanding that they can have is that God wants them to do something and they are responding in obedience.  The significant understanding is not in what baptism means but what God would have us to do.  I want our kids, my kids to believe that if they know that God is asking them for something – or to do something that they need to respond to it and not make their obedience conditional on greater understanding.

If anything perhaps it is adults that should be suspect?  Maybe we should more carefully scrutinize the older ones when they are baptized?  I think a child who is old enough to understand that they need to be saved is old enough to understand that they need to be baptized.  We are much more complex, much harder to read when we gain our years.

Jesus said,

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child and had him stand among them.  3 And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.  6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. [4]

I guess, if anything we, the adults, are the ones who need to change.  According to Christ, we need to be come a little more like children, able to live out of their hearts rather than their heads?

Many adults will not respond to God until they attempt to make perfect sense out of what He is asking us to do.  I am not sure that God will bow to our need to perfectly understand.  I am not sure that if God is all-knowing, the Creator of the human mind, that we have the capacity to understand.

Jesus’ initial call to His disciples was:

17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. Mark 1:17-18 (NIV)[5]

Do you suppose that they really understood what they were signing up for.  It wasn’t a clear understanding that allowed them to respond but an undeniable inner compulsion to leave and to follow – to obey.

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his lifea will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? [6] Mark 8:34-36 (NIV)

This next call, recorded in the book of Mark following Jesus revelation of his own death to his disciples was a call to follow a similar path.  To take up a cross themselves.

In John 16:12, Jesus speaks to the disciples relative to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter to come and he says:

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. John 16:12 (NIV)[7]

Whether we admit it or not, our understanding of God is childlike at it’s highest form.  We understand little really.  Regardless of our understanding, we do have the capacity to obey.

That is if we seek to know the heart of God and we are willing to trust.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.a Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)[8]


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[1]The Holy Bible  : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Mk 10:21). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[2]The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (1 Co 9:16). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[3]The Holy Bible  : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Mk 10:22). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[4]The Holy Bible  : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Mt 18:1-6). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[5]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

a  The Greek word means either life or soul; also in verse 36.

[6]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[7]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

a  Or will direct your paths

[8]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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