Today was a pure day.
In this walk, this journey out of my dried up field, I have many days that are not pure. They are stained with cynicism. Past hurts, current questions and a lot of hurting people around me all feed the field of cynicism.
When I look up the definition of cynicism, the words are harsh. “Believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of people’s sincerity or integrity”. Wow. Am I really that person? I definitely have a cynical attitude.
It’s not that these people truly are motivated by self-interest, for the most part, but some of these people have done things that make me question their sincerity. They have abused their power. This is serious and the basis of all my cynical attitudes. Some are just deeply ingrained in Christian culture that have added non-essentials to the Christian walk using the bible and the platform to get their message and beliefs across. Most of the time that adds up to legalism.
I would not be completely truthful if some of my cynicism rubs off on my views of God. My father, my savior. I am thankful for enough deep experiences with Him to know that HE is not the cause of other people in power’s sin. It’s unfortunate that His name has been added on by these sometimes unsuspecting people. The fact that I have questions does not mean that I question God. It took me a long time to realize that. It is okay to be on this journey. There are a lot of other people on this journey too. I feel there is a difference between having questions and questioning God. And I admit I have done both. I don’t understand some things and probably never will this side of heaven, but I do know God. And I am thankful that even though I have had very imperfect people leading me on this journey, somehow God has used them to strongly influence my relationship with Him.
But getting back to today. Today was pure. One of the definitions of pure is free of any contamination. For a few hours today all of my doubts, my questions, and my cynicism were pushed out, and instead, pure joy as a room full of people came together to witness baptism. Seven baptisms.
Now, baptism is one of the things that I can be cynical about. Not the actual experience or the meaning, but the adding on from other churches. Examples of things I have heard in the past are in order to become a member of such-and-such church you must be baptized, especially if you grew up in a different denomination than the current church. Or if you were sprinkled as a baby, even though you have come to a relationship with Christ, you must be dunked, because, that’s biblical. And we do what’s biblical. Period. That’s where my cynicism kicks in.
Today at our church several children got baptized. And one adult with a very cool story. She was first and her story was so pure and so handpicked by God that even though it challenged one of my current questions, the question didn’t stand a chance in this moment.
The question that I have has to do with how people are picked by God to have a relationship with him. You know, if you have no knowledge of God how do you get in a relationship with Him? All of my life I have heard that unless the Holy Spirit prompts you, you cannot get saved. Hmmm. Well, then why isn’t everyone prompted by the holy spirit? Some think that only certain people are; you could call this predestination. Another thing I have been told is that we have to tell others about Christ. Growing up I was told that the blood of people would be on my hands if I was not obedient in sharing Christ (this is false). But I grew up evangelical. We have missionaries. The Great Commission. You. Go tell. It’s on us!!!! Regardless how you look at it, people who come to know Christ by unusual ways have a very neat God story when they choose to believe in Him, and this lady was no exception.
After the young lady with the cool story got baptized, I was very moved. And I hate to admit it but baptisms stopped moving me a long time ago. Maybe it’s because at other churches there is fancy talk, robes and formality. Here, everyone was in t-shirts and shorts. Our “baptismal” is a feeding trough. And this experience was cool because growing up there was a lot of shouting when adults got baptized. Because they were adults and you know…. only 10% of people past the age of 18 receive Christ, at least that is what I have been told in countless sermons on evangelism. Remember, it’s on us! (if you didn’t note the sarcasm there, then you don’t know me). I guess the difference in today and other times I have witnessed adults being baptized, was the intimacy. The transparency of the service. Even the casualness of it all. It was beautiful.
Then the kids started being baptized. And at our church the parents are fully involved and complete this process. Both the mom and dad. I thought it was cool when I was at other churches and they allowed the father to baptize their children. I never thought that I, a woman, would be able to have equal participation in baptizing my children. So there’s that. The parents talked about how their kids came to know Christ. How other people in the church had influenced their kids, talked to them about Christ. Taught them. Then, either the mom or dad performed the baptism. Again, it was beautiful.
There’s something else you need to know about this service. It was FULL of kids. We wanted everyone to be in the room to view all the baptisms. So that meant all the kids who are normally in preschool or the baby room were in church. We expected it to be loud. Chaotic. But surprisingly, it wasn’t. That was something else I noticed that was different. The children. Even my children, lol. Last time we were all in service together I was a distracted mess. Up and down. In and out. I did not notice the many kids in the room, past it being a little bit noisier than when they aren’t present.
The children, especially the smaller children topped this experience off with a giant P for pure. As the children were getting baptized all the of the other children in the room wanted to see, so by the end of the baptisms the front of the church was lined with small children. And we sang. And they smiled. And they sang. They were free. We were free. And they were beautiful. It was beautiful. I made a point of looking all over the room to see and notice the presence of God. To remember the moment. The pure presence of Christ.
There were no questions going around in my mind. No theological nit-picking going on in my head. It was just beautiful stories being told and the symbolic act of publicly acknowledging Christ as their savior. It was beautiful 3 year olds singing and smiling. It was wet, cold children coming up from a trough full of water, of all things, smiling, hugging their parents. It was parents smiling and hugging their children back.
It was as if God was reminding me once again how big He is. How I don’t have to worry and question over everything because, ultimately, He’s got it. He’s big. He was surrounding me with His presence. It was pure. It was God. That’s why there were no questions. Just the radiance of Christ on those children and young lady, the parents, and everyone in that room.