Today my 7 year old daughter, Anna, comes home from school very excited. She proceeds to tell us the reason. First she had a good day, which is great. Then she tells us that she got to testify to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As she told the story, a boy said that Jesus died on the cross and she turned around and said, “yeah, but He rose from the dead.” Earlier this week as I was putting my 3 year old son, Judah, to bed and he said, “Jesus loves you.” How amazing are children. Now it would be very easy for me to congratulate myself and Jessica for a job well done. However, the faith that my children have does not come from me, but is a gift from the Holy Spirit, given to us by Jesus Christ.
“Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter.” (Hebrews 12) I am saddened sometimes to think about how we understand faith in our day and age. First I would like to bring up the importance of a faith that is centered on Jesus’ resurrection. It seems that for many, many years now the focus has been on the crucifixion of Jesus. No doubt, this is extremely important, but the death of Christ has no power without the resurrection. In fact our faith is worthless without the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15).
It is easy to believe and have faith that Jesus died for us. I mean we see people give their lives for others all the time. But a true and authentic faith in Jesus Christ is about the resurrection. “Jesus replied, ‘Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.” (John 20) Jesus says this concerning His resurrection. Maybe the boy in the story that Anna told us believed that Jesus had risen from the dead or maybe he didn’t. But the point that Anna needed to reveal the truly Good News is astounding. She did not just leave the Gospel hanging, but testified to the complete reality of our faith.
I am truly saddened by the fact that I have met people, even pastors, who do not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. And yet, my daughter at the age of 7 already believes. At least enough to talk about it. Which brings me to another importance that makes me sad; how can we deny to include our children in the covenant of Jesus through baptism when clearly our faith comes from the Author and Perfecter?
Somehow in some parts of the church when we speak about baptism and faith it comes from a sort of existential perspective. Or in other words, our faith depends upon our own experience and reason. Example, “Jesus is Lord” is only true when I claim it. Or, I am not forgiven until I ask for forgiveness. My question against this is how can we claim a reality unless it was a reality already?
We don’t ask for forgiveness to receive forgiveness, we ask for forgiveness because it is already a part of our lives. The reality is that God already promised forgiveness and reconciliation through the cross and resurrection. “In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5) Whether we claim “Jesus as Lord” or ask for forgiveness does not change the fact that these propositions are already a reality. Now we can deny this reality and choose to live outside of it, but this does not make the reality of Jesus’ work any less in our lives. The grace that God has given us in Jesus Christ is given and is always with us. The gift of faith is already within us through grace. The reason for this is because the reality is not based on mine or your actions and beliefs but it is based on God’s actions in history.
Since we have this existential perspective in parts of the church we deny children baptism because they make the claim that people must first have faith in Jesus Christ. But baptism is not about our faith, it is about God’s faith and promises. God places His faith in humanity and makes them the church as His choice. Jesus died and was risen so that we can share in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even if we wait to baptize on the premise that we must first announce our faith in Jesus Christ, this does not take from the reality that Jesus has already chosen us and reconciled us and died for us and risen for us.
Judah at 3 years old has not claimed faith in Jesus Christ, however he has become a minister of reconciliation because he proclaimed “Jesus loves you.” Sometimes I wonder how bloated we are with our own selves that we can’t even recognize the faith that Jesus has already instilled in us. As if we created faith.
Saying that I will state why I am sad. A lot of people will say, what does it matter when we baptize. Here is why I am saddened, Look at how much we are missing out on. I am saddened for people who have not been baptized because they are missing out on something bigger than their own faith. They are missing out on knowing a bigger reality that God has given the world. They are missing out on being a part of something that God is doing now in everyone’s life.
Baptism is a gift from God, not our proof of faith. It is a promise from God that He is working for us, in us, and through us. It is God claiming His children. Whether you have put your faith in Christ or not, God has put His faith in you. He has put it into the oldest person and the youngest person, for “His Spirit has been poured out on all flesh.” (Acts 2)