I love baptism. It is one of the greatest joys of my life to help facillitate such a public step of obedience. I love to hear the stories of people who have been saved by Jesus. And the best part is, no two stories are alike. God's sovereignty and His grace is evidenced in so many different ways through so many different circumstances. Yet everyone who gets baptized has this in common: they have been transformed by Christ. They aren't ashamed to say, "I'm with Jesus!" in front of family and friends, but also in front of complete strangers. But out of their love for their Savior, they go all in with Him. It's amazing!
That's why I loved being able to plan for a baptistery for our new worship center at the Lockport Campus. I met with Rich Bergstrom and Joe Hammann on our Facilities Team to talk through many different options - which tank, where it would go, etc. I know that may not sound all that exciting, but it represents a fundamental part of our ministry. It's just a hole in the ground right now, but it's not hard to imagine what it will mean for us as a local church. I started to think about all the stories of God's grace that we'll be able to celebrate together, all of the people who will someday pass through those waters. There's nothing special about the water or even the baptistery, but rather what it represents.
Someone has said that baptism is like a wedding ring. It's a symbol, but by no means does that mean it's trivial - any more than your own wedding ring is. In addition, the ring doesn't actually make you married. The vows are what sealed that covenant of love; the ring points to those vows. Maybe that's why I love baptism so much, because it reminds me of going to a wedding - and all the excitement that goes with it. For all those who are in Christ, you have taken some "vows" with Him: Jesus, I'm yours forever. In good times and bad times, I will follow you. I want to spend eternity with you. No matter what the future holds, I belong to you and you alone. Forsaking all others, I follow you.
Once you've taken those vows, you put on the ring. That's what baptism is! So when I am making plans for a baptistery in our new worship center, it almost feels like I'm planning for some wedding ceremonies - and that gets exciting. I also think of all the people we invite to see baptisms - the family and friends of those getting baptized. In many cases, there are several people who come to a baptism that don't know Jesus personally. Think of the opportunity they'll have to see and hear the Gospel through a baptism! Just as we invite people to hear a love story at a wedding, so too with this: we want to invite people to hear a different kind of love story - one where the God of the Universe loves humanity in spite of their sin and rebellion. The Bible says, "This is how God demonstrates his love to us: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). And we see that demonstration clearly in the celebration of baptism.
So now you know why a huge hole in the ground can get me excited: because I can already imagine the stories of God's grace that will come through the celebration of baptism. And I also know that God will do immeasurably more than we can even imagine.
Together for the Mission,