I spent this past weekend in the town in which I used to live, and as I drove there on Friday I spent some time thinking about the church we attended while we lived there and our current church situation, in particular, the issue of baptism.
In our previous church, which was Baptist, baptisms are done by full immersion for believers. In our current denomination, infant baptisms are the norm and we have seen quite a few of them done in the last few months. The first time we saw one, I nudged my older son to pay attention. After it was done, he informed me, "Mommy, he did not baptize anyone." "Yes, he did," I explained. "No, he didn't. He didn't disappear." It took me a while to realize that this was not just an odd thought from the mind of a 4 1/2 year old, but rather it came from having only witnessed full immersion baptisms in the past. In those baptisms, he would see the person being baptized disappear into the water.
I thought it really was such a beautiful metaphor for our life as disciples of Jesus, and a great description of what I think Paul is saying in Colossians 2:12 (when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead) and Romans 6:4 (Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life).
While baptism by water is a fairly quick event, we should always remember that it is only pointing us to baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is often a day-by-day journey. It's like when we go to a pool with zero-depth entry. Sometimes, we stand at the edge and just let the water lap at our feet. Maybe we take a few steps in or maybe up to our waist (sometimes, we just do not want to get our hair all wet). But sometimes, we jump off the diving board or shoot down the slide into the depths of water all around us and we are immersed.
Baptism of the Holy Spirit has been on my mind lately, and I hope to write about it soon (we'll see how that actually works out, though!). Until then, I'll leave you with this:
I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you withthe Holy Spirit." --Mark 1:8
In what part of the pool are you? In what part of the pool do you want to be?