Today, my ten year old girl Kylee asked, “Daddy, how much does it cost to be baptized?”
What a cute question. It gave me the opportunity to sit down and talk to her and my six year old son Will about baptism.
Flashback six months.
My other daughter Katelynn (who is eleven), was desirous to be baptized. In actuality, she has been for quit some time. Every time I have said “no.” I just have not been comfortable with her sincerity. It is not her trust in Christ that I question, but her reasons for wanting to be baptized. It always seems to have a motivation of “fun” and the my-friend-got-baptized-so-I-want-to-also argument. I don’t like that. She is kind of a show off. She likes to be the center of attention. Like when we are at the Credo House getting ready to do a class or Bible study, she wants to be on camera and speak into the mic for no reason other than to show her pretty face. Our church is pretty typical in the way we do baptism. It is believer’s baptism and it takes place in a baptismal which is right behind the stage. Many people are present as you confess your faith and illustrate your new life in Christ by going under water (being buried with Christ) and coming out of the water (raised to a new life).
Simply put, while I think Katelynn understands what baptism is about, I don’t like the competing motives that are arm wrestling in her mind right now.
Every time she asks to be baptized, I test her by saying “OK, let’s do it right now. We can do it in the bath tub.” Each time she refuses. This, to me, confirms my thoughts about her motives. She is just not ready.
I am not saying I am right, but it is where I am.
Flash forward to today.
Katelynn is out of town at camp. Its just me, Will, Kylee, and Zach (my three year old). After discussing with Kylee and Will about baptism, both were excited. Kylee is different than Katelynn. She is not such an attention monger. She, like Katelynn, asked if she could be baptized. So did Will. So I put it to the test. I said, “Sure. Let’s go outside to the pool and I will baptize you both right now.” They both agreed with surprising excitement.
Now, I am an ordained minister of the Gospel, but, to me, this adds no qualifying credentials to my ability to baptize. I don’t see anywhere in Scripture which even suggests that only someone in ministerial authority can baptize someone else. If the great commission is given to all people and we place sharing the Gospel message on the backs of all, then why not the other part of the Great Commission, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”? Church tradition, as you probably are aware, is certainly not unified on this. Therefore, I go with a simple reading of Scripture and say that everyone, young or old, male or female, including you, can and should baptize others. Have you ever baptized anyone?
As well, while my particular tradition suggests that baptism should be done at church on Sunday evenings at 6:30pm once a month, there is simply no reason for us to be bound by such constraints. If a person understands what baptism is about and has made a commitment to Christ, find water. It is pretty simple. While nice, I don’t see any reason why a crowd is necessary at all. I mean, how big would the crowd have to be?
I am always reminded of the simple story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-40. Remember, the Eunuch listened to the Gospel and then desired to be baptized. Philip did not call a big crowd together of other Christians (although there was probably quite a few people in the Ethiopian’s convoy) and schedule a baptismal service. Philip did not present him with his official ordination certificate. Simply put, Philip was not bound by the traditional production we are so fond of today (not that it is necessarily evil or anything). He simply found water.
“As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?’ And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.” (Acts 8:37-38)
Sometimes I think we make baptism far too complicated and in the production lose some of the meaning.
This being said, I took both Kylee and Will into the pool and baptized them. This is what I was commanded to do. I will do the same with Katelynn if she so desires. While I have nothing against some of the traditions we have with regards to baptism, I think we need to be careful. Baptism is free, but it is too important for us to lose in our traditionalism. Sometimes we just need to go find water.
What say you? Would you baptize your kids in the pool? Why or why not?