This is the Church

This past Sunday night I had the privilege of baptizing 10 young people. It was an exciting evening and a particularly thrilling experience for me to baptize teens raised in our church as well as teens fromJapan,South Korea,China,VietnamandNigeria. As each of them shared a brief testimony, it was evident that this was the church at work as it was designed to be.

Here was a group of young people who witnessed about coming to faith in a variety of ways, but all of them, in one way or another, talked about the various spiritual influences on their lives. For some, parents were most influential; for others a Sunday School teacher or people atHoughtonAcademy; for most it was a group effort of many unnamed people God used to create an atmosphere for opening their lives to Christ.

As I listened to the candidates share, as I heard the thunderous applause when each person came up out of the water, as I watched the disorganized chaos of 300 people attempting to congratulate the newly baptized, I thought, This is the church. Ironically, as I waited in line for my turn to see them, a parishioner whispered those exact words in my ear.

It’s true. This is one of those moments when we get a glimpse into the church as the visible representation of God’s kingdom on earth. Historically, baptism is to be administered in the public gatherings of the church because of all the things we do as the church, in baptism we are stepping into the historic and universal stream of God’s people through the ages and around the world. In baptism, we are declaring to each other that this walk with Christ is never a solitary journey; it’s always about connecting with Christ by connecting with Christ’s people. I’m not saying that it’s a sin to be baptized privately; I’m just saying that private baptism is not God’s plan nor is it God’s purpose for this monumental event.

Were we to ask every person who was baptized this week if having all those people present made the experience better or worse, despite the anxiety about speaking to a large crowd of people, particularly when English isn’t the first language of many, they would, to a person, tell us that the joy of the crowd watching made the experience of the moment that much more precious and memorable.

If you ever wonder if your presence, involvement or commitment to the church is insignificant, I’m telling you that it’s anything but. Let’s commit ourselves once again to Christ and his church. After all, if it’s important to him, it’s important to us. Right?