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Is There A Right Age To Be Baptized?
Since becoming a mother, I view the world differently. My kids have a way of making me think about things in a new way. They have a sense of wonder that I lost long ago. And after a discussion about God and Jesus with a child, the phrase “faith like a child” gains much more depth.
Baptism is one of the things my daughter is helping me to think about in a new way.
Two summers ago, she was just five years old and we watched people being baptized in the park.
Her: “What are they doing?”
Me: “Well, when you love Jesus, the pastor pushes you under the water so everyone will know.”
(Perhaps if I thought before I spoke, I would have come up with a less traumatizing explanation).
Fast forward to this Easter Sunday.
During the baptisms, my daughter, now seven, whispered: “Mommy, I want to get baptized.”
I told her we would talk about it later.
Me: “Why do people get baptized?”
Her: “Because they love Jesus.”
Me: “You’re right. And they want everyone to know it.”
Her: “I want everyone to know.”
Me: “I’m really glad you want to get baptized, but I think you should wait until you’re older.”
Because obviously seven is much too young to truly understand what baptism means.
But is it?
Baptism is a public declaration of faith. And children have a much purer faith than most adults. Maybe seven is the perfect age to be baptized. Maybe she should be baptized while she still has the faith of a child. Maybe I am over-complicating this beautiful tradition. Maybe I am preventing something amazing by saying no.
But then again, Jesus got baptized when he was around thirty years old. Why did he wait so long?
Were there no other opportunities along the way? If anyone was ready for baptism at a young age, it would be Jesus.
On the flip side, there are multiple Biblical examples of people accepting the gospel, and being baptized immediately. It seems as though sometimes we want to ensure that people’s Christianity is going to stick before we put them in the tank. But really, do any of us know with absolute certainty that our own faith is going to stick? Do we know beyond doubt that we are not going to face challenges or a crisis that will shake, or even shatter our faith?
Is there a right time to be baptized? Should it be because one feels called? Should it be when one has been a Christian for a certain length of time? Should it be at a certain age? Or is simply loving Jesus and wanting to keep on loving him reason enough?
Heidi Eastman lives in Neustadt with her husband, two daughters, and a beast of a dog. She has been an active part of the HMC congregation from the moment she was old enough to contribute. You can find her over at her own blog, My Sister Told Me To Start A Blog. [Articles by Heidi]
Jesus, Friend of Sinners ~ lessons from a song
by contributing writer Kristen Webb
On New Years Eve my family went to the church skate at the coliseum. I was enjoying skating, not really thinking about anything in particular and then I noticed the song that was playing. I recognized it as “Jesus, Friend of Sinner’s” by Casting Crowns. I have heard it lots of times and have always liked it. I enjoy how the song talks about not judging people, but loving them instead. This is a value I have been passionate about since I was young; but on New Years Eve, the song hit me in a completely different way.
It overwhelmed me and healed me as I was gliding along among all those people.
I have struggled since I was a teenager with feeling like I am a failure, especially when it comes to my Christian walk. I think this stemmed from being a perfectionist and feeling I had to be perfect for God to be pleased with me. I felt like He was angry every time I made a mistake! This tainted my life and made everything a struggle. I thought life was just hard and that was the way it had to be. God said we would have trials and I thought the fear and sense of failure I was experiencing were the trails God was talking about. I just figured I needed to try harder to be perfect and endure all the emotional stress failing brought me.
But now I see that I needlessly endured the very things Jesus died to free me of.
What sort of things were affected by my perfectionism? Everything I did was affected!
Once, when I was helping out with our youth group, I created a permission slip for Snow Camp but forgot to change the date from the year before. Handing out a permission slip with the wrong date ruined my entire day.
Looking back I can see how silly this was because in the grand scheme of things it really did not matter to anyone else that the date was wrong. The youth knew that the permission form was obviously for this year not last year.
My whole day was made up of numerous events like the permission slip—of me judging myself and finding myself lacking. It was like I was continually playing this game to trying to be perfect and keeping score in my head. If I lost any points during the day I would feel like a failure, which led to depression and thinking I did not deserve anything good.
Looking back, I wonder if I was trying to fix the hole in my soul by being perfect.
I was sexually abused as a kid and it really messed me up inside. I did not deal with what happened or go to God to heal me, I just buried it all and tried to pretend nothing was wrong. I think I was trying to fix my broken heart by being perfect and I felt that if I could just not make any mistakes the deep hurt in me would go away.
The devil had me right where he wanted me.
This solo attempt to fix the problem added a huge amount of pain and stress to my life. There was no way I could be perfect so this just made my failures more painful, and spiraled me further into hopelessness. I was haunted by condemnation and felt unworthy and insecure.
But all the while, I was careful to not let others see my weakness. I taught others about forgiveness and grace but felt it did not apply to me.
So when I was gliding along and I heard the song about Jesus being a friend of sinners I had an epiphany: I realized all the things I felt God was mad at me for were sins! That made me a sinner and the song said that Jesus was a friend to sinners!
This song about God’s grace did not just apply to others but to ME.
God was not mad at me or even expecting me to be perfect—He was wanting me to grasp His forgiveness and fully embrace His love for me. He died to free me from sin, and did not expect me to try harder but to trust Him. I couldn’t do this on my own and I was not meant to even try…which is why my life was such an endless, epic fail.
I was hoping that being good would impress God and somehow fix my broken soul.
But trying to be good without God actually fueled pride and separated me from God. God is not impressed when we try to be good on our own. The fact that I failed so often in my own strength was no surprise to God.
God was so aware of our weaknesses that He sent Jesus to die on the Cross to be our SAVIOR. I totally missed the crux of Christianity: the fact that I needed a Savior to save me from my sin—not just to forgive my sins so I could have a relationship with God and get into heaven but to free me from the power of sin in my everyday life.
All that pressure I had been putting on myself slipped away as I grasped that God’s grace and mercy applied to me too.
I did not have to be perfect to please God, and my righteousness came from Jesus.
Relief overwhelmed me as I realized God loved me just as I was—a sinner—someone who makes a lot of mistakes. I don’t need to marinate in condemnation when I blow it. I need to accept God’s forgiveness, rejoice, and move on. All the shame I had been holding for years washed away. I could finally admit that I was not strong, that I had huge issues and that I was not the wonderful Christian I was trying so hard to be.
By believing all of Satan’s lies I had tortured myself for years. But the the comfort that was flowing into my life as I skated around was so freeing. Being free from pride and shame felt amazing. I had been trying so hard to have it all together and it felt great to have permission to be a mess.
It was going to be okay because my success did not rest in me but on God.
I don’t need to try to be good on my own strength. That is not my job! I can trust God to transform me and, if I stay close and listen and obey, He will lead me and change me.
While I was writing this blog another Casting Crowns song came on that describes how I don’t have to figure it all out by myself. It is called, “Just be Held.”
It is not by trying harder that I become someone God is pleased with, but by trusting more completely and surrendering all to Him.
Kristen Webb boards horses in the country with her husband and three daughters – one of whom has special needs. She has been part of the HMC congregation for almost eighteen years. You can find her over at her own blog, My Wild Ride Through The Door Of Faith.
How a Sermon From 50 Years Ago is Still Relevant Today
Hebrews 11:1-27 New International Version (NIV)
Faith in Action11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[c] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.