Today’s culture is adrfit. There is no longer an oppressive meta-narrative keeping everyone in check. Everything changes, and everything changes fast. If you have to wait more than a couple of minutes for your fast food you get upset. If the lines at the self-checkout are long you can’t understand why they don’t have more. People change their relationships almost as often as they do their underwear.
Yeah, it’s a different world. The change that has taken place has left many disillusioned, frustrated, and wondering if there is anything left that matters, that will be what it says it will be.
Many of the college students that I work with are looking for stability. They are desirous that somethign will deliver. They can see through all the bull crap that’s out there and so they are cynical. Who can blame them? Every week it sems that another “holy” man has turned out to be a pedophile or morally degenerate in some way. Every week sub concsiously they exclaim with the little boy, after the Black Sox trial, “Say it ain’t so Joe!”
This is where infant baptism comes in. More than that this is where the covenant promises of the holy, triune God comes in. He brings about the things that he promises to bring about. He makes sure that they happen, because he can.
I had a conversation one time with a gal about baptism. She was baptised as an infant in a “liberal” “church” of some sort. She had been going to a church in town and they were pressuring her to be baptised now that she was walking with Jesus. They informed her that her “first” “baptism” meant nothing since she was a baby and didn’t choose it and that her parents weren’t even Christians. Yet, to me it is amazing that the day she was bapised her parents, the congregation, and the officiant promised to lead this girl to Jesus. They covenanted with God and he made good. The promise was on him to make happen and he did. As she reflected on that reality she was deeply moved and drew nearer to the God who had called her as a freshman in college.
As I think about my two kids and their baptisms I am amazed at how the Lord is making good already. Our pastor prayed during Ethan’s baptism that he would be an evangelist and that he would take the gospel to the world. His first few weeks as a kindergartner, the first time he was ever around kids who weren’t “churched” he began inviting his classmates to know about God. I didn’t tell him to. He did it because “they need Jesus like me dad.”
In a culture, a world where no one makes good on their promises. God does through this rite of passage into the covenantal community of believers. God shows his faithfulness over and over again to the child who is baptised in the triune name of God. It does not save them but it initiates them into the community.
I can hear the naysayers already, “it doesn’t happen for everyone”. I know. I don’t know why, it’s a mystery. It seems more often than not in my experience that these promises made in faith turn out.
The God of the Bible is a God who covenants with his people and includes the children in that covenant. He always has, always will. Why are we afraid to trust him for our children? Why act like he doesn’t care, when he does? Why not show a cynical world the beauty of our promise keeping God as we remind our children, our friends, and those around us of their baptism and the promise that God is making good on?
Oh, for the world to see promises kept generation after generation.