If a short child is baptized but no one can see it, is she still credited with obeying Jesus?
The only thing I remember from my own baptism as a 6-year-old is the pastor asking the congregation. “Can you see her?”
“No!” came the unanimous reply.
Growing up, I just accepted that a newly saved person would “follow the Lord in believer’s baptism.” I’ve seen a lot of baptisms in my time, but it wasn’t until I began working at VOM that the enormity of this decision began to affect me.
Baptism is physically identifying yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ. For those of us in America where a majority of us would call ourselves “Christians,” identifying with Christ carries little to no risk.
I attended my first outdoor baptism after I began working at VOM. We sang; we ate. It was an event! Thankfully, the newly-baptized pre-teen did not have to worry about the secret police snatching her father away after he baptized her or prepare to face scorn and excommunication from her schoolmates for her Christian faith.
Several verses (okay, the whole chapter) of Philippians 3 have helped me understand a bit more about this ordinance.
“...that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” (v. 10)
Baptism is identifying with Christ’s shameful death. I think shame is the toughest part of discipleship to handle. To accept the scornful mocking to follow Christ? That often paralyzes me when it comes to being vocal about my faith. But that’s what I am to identify with if I’m baptized: a shameful death, a death Rome reserved for criminals, slaves, and insurrectionists.
For believers in restricted or hostile nations, to identify with Jesus is to face the rejection of your family and your community. For those in Middle Eastern and Asian cultures, the idea of shaming one’s family is enough to cause hesitation when thinking about following Christ. I may only be mocked for my faith in Christ. They may lose everything – even their lives – for it.
Thankfully, that is not the only part of Christ we identify with. “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.”
Wow. We get to identify – I’m still trying to process this – we get to identify with the God of the universe. Who can raise Himself from the dead!
The identification with Christ’s suffering is just a small part. That’s the most beautiful lesson that our persecuted family teaches me. They don’t dwell on the suffering. They keep their eyes and mind focused on the eternal perspective. A glorified Lord who will return, not to suffer and die, but to rule. Justly. Victoriously. Gloriously. Unquestionably.
In our monthly Newsletter we often show photos of people being baptized in tubs, rivers, lakes, and sometimes watering troughs. I guess there are worse places to identify with the God who was placed in a feeding trough after birth.
They identify and suffer with the Suffering Christ. They also identify with the Risen Lord knowing that even death will not have dominion over them.
“For our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Phil. 3:20-21, ESV)
Leah Grant has worked at The Voice of the Martyrs for the past year and is drawn to helping those that cannot help themselves. She has done missions work in the Dominican Republic and Colombia, but believes her main purpose is to glorify the Word, Jesus Christ, through the written word. She is a word nerd, a history geek, and enjoys discussing theology with anyone willing to listen to her long-winded ramblings. She ties those three together as often as she can in the stories that she writes in her spare time.