Baptism

Roger Nishioka, the outstanding Christian Educator, writes about a teen named Kyle who was a member of a confirmation class that Roger had taught. Kyle had been an excellent student who was always prepared and who contributed to the discussion. Since Kyle had not been baptized as an infant, on confirmation Sunday he was baptized as well as confirmed. Yet immediately after the class was over, Kyle and his family quit attending church. When Roger called to see if anything was wrong, Kyle’s mother seemed puzzled. “We thought Kyle was done,” she said.

Somehow, nearly a year of classes failed to convey the true nature of baptism. Baptism is the beginning of faith, not the end. In baptism, we die to the persons we once were; we’re given a new identity; and we’re sent out to serve.

My guess is that for many people, baptism is an empty rite of passage. They figure it’s something they ought to do, even if they don’t really know why: “Pastor, the family will be in town next week; can you do the kid then?”

Yet baptism was so important to Jesus that he didn’t begin his earthly ministry until he was first baptized by John. This means that somehow, when we’re baptized, Jesus’ baptism becomes our baptism. He claims us. We’re his. Our lives are no longer our own.

Roger Nishioka says that some churches have changed the name of “Confirmation Class” to “Confirmation and Commissioning Class.” As important as it is for a church to teach the basic language of faith, it’s just as important to equip them and provide them opportunities to serve.

Have you been baptized? Did you think you were “done?” Let the water carry you out to serve.

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