We can all dream of having words like Jesus; having the reply that silenced his critics every time. Jesus’ thinking reveals the wisdom and sanctity of God, for his ways are not our ways and our thoughts are not his (Isaiah 55:8).
In encouraging those who had received John the Baptist’s baptism, Jesus proclaims in hyperbolic fashion:
“I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
~Luke 7:28 (NRSV)
Baptism As An Expression Of Humility
Nowadays baptism is a public demonstration that we acknowledge we belong to God and are committing to live re-born lives. By Divine re-birth, having asked God to put to death the old life, which was free to the sinful nature—having buried that old life—we come to consummate and accelerate our friendship and partnership with God.
What came before the decision for baptism was humility. We agreed that the truth presented before us was compelling; that God owns us and we’re inherently broken and disconnected without him. Humility is home in the truth. It sees it and it faces it. Humility is also a quiet courage to do what must be done in the presentation of that truth. Humility becomes blessed, for all things in the truth are.
To have received a baptism, even from John, an inferior baptism to Jesus’, but of itself a wholly satisfactory baptism, those early believers are given equal status; no, better! For their humble faith, to be baptised when the Pharisees would not, and to show their dependence on God, these early believers had been affirmed by the Lord himself. Baptism confers the Lord’s favour.
Baptism may be the first of a series of actions demonstrating blessed spiritual humility.
Going Beyond Doubting Unto Conviction
Many believers, having been saved at numerous altar calls, haven’t gone on in their journey toward full commitment. They may wait for the halcyon experience. They may still doubt the veracity of the faith life. They may sit on the fence enjoying the view from a ‘safe’ vantage point. Doubting and spiritual apathy are normal and natural. But they don’t get us too far. Halcyon experiences come after expressions of faith. There’s nothing more truth-filled than the faith life. Sitting on the fence is the riskiest position.
God blesses us at accord with our conviction to let go from safe harbour. As we trust the Lord with our entire lives we do get the keys to the kingdom; our lives are transformed all for the better—but not a ‘better’ according to the world’s thin definition.
Faith requires a risk. To take God at his Word, getting beyond doubting, expresses faith—which is something that cannot be vindicated beforehand. We only experience the blessings afterward.
When we’re convicted within our minds and hearts to throw ourselves solemnly before God, a crucial expression of which is baptism, we stand only to be blessed.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.