A Theology of Baptism

Tomorrow I get to be baptized. It’s something I decided a little more than a month ago and I have been thinking a lot about these past few weeks as it has approached, especially this week. This past week has been a heavy week. Week four of the quarter, midterms next week, work, friends, and thoughts of the future have all caused me to have a heavy and tired heart this week. In the midst of that I have been thinking about what my baptism means. Baptism has been with the Church since the beginning; blood has been shed through the ages for it, individuals have forfeited land and life for it, communities have split over it, creeds have been structured around it and bodies have been burned for it. All of this being said, it is still one of the most foundational qualities that is shared by churches across cultures, borders, languages, ethnicities, liturgies, theologies, economies, and histories. This is what I am stepping into at baptism. I feel that my baptism is a promise to identify with Jesus’ death and resurrection. I see my baptism as promise to depend on Jesus as my teacher and companion. I understand baptism to be a promise to be a part the weighty history of the Church. I know my baptism is a promise to live out my theology.

I have experienced what happens when the promise of baptism is not upheld. It results in pastors who wound their communities, mentors who burn hearts, friends who cannot see beyond their own greed, and lives that are thrown out of balance. I do not believe that baptism creates faithful pastors, reliable mentors, honest friends or stable lives, anymore than I believe marriage vows create good spouses. However, I do believe that baptism is a statement of willingness to allow the Spirit of God and the community of Christ to shape me into a faithful disciple as I try to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God.

Through the fatigue of this week my weaknesses have felt prominent, but the Lord has provided grace. I have been impatient, but Living Water has provided me with patience. I have been disrespectful and rude, but Yahweh has allowed me to be honoring and respectful. I have been timid, but my Helper has enabled me to stand confidently. I have been selfish, but the Bread of Life caused me to be a friend. I have been arrogant, but the Ancient of Days has made me second. This baptism is an outward declaration of these inward changes that my God continues to make. This sacrament is my choice to continue to rely of my God for this grace.