Immersed into God’s family

Post 2

Image from -http://m.beautifulshoes.org/patriotic-diy-t-shirt/

Sharon was baptized last Sunday while her church family looked on. For those who are not familiar with what baptism is, she stood in a pool and her mentors immersed her in the water in the name of the Father, the Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It was a happy occasion for Sharon, that she could obey her Lord Jesus in one of the baby-steps of the Christian faith.

Anyone who has studied the history and teaching of Jesus Christ and His disciples in the Bible would know that baptism is a symbol of the new life that is given to anyone who believes that Jesus Christ is the only way to the forgiveness of their sins. The act of baptism in itself does not make anyone a Christian, the Bible teaches that it is the one who has become a follower of Jesus Christ who needs to be baptized.

Earlier that morning Vishal, the elder at Marg, shared about how the word baptism means immersion. He explained the restoration of true identity that happens to a Christ-follower and how baptism represents this. He gave the example of how a white cloth when immersed into red dye, turns completely red. That cloth would henceforth be “used for all things red”. It is no longer identified with the colour white. In the same way, the act of being immersed in water- baptism- is a way for the Christian to affirm the truth that they are dead to the old way of life, in wrong deeds and hopelessness without Jesus as Lord. They are now risen to new life with Him as Lord and Saviour and with the church as family appointed by Christ.

So it was a joy to see Sharon get baptized, not just as a individual follower of Christ, but as one gladly accepting herself as a part of the family of God. Sharon’s words to those gathered around the pool, that baptism symbolizes her becoming one, not with just Christ but with His body the church, is timely in an age where more and more Christians are content to live a “Just-God-and-me” lifestyle. This type of lifestyle is found neither in the life of Christ nor in the example of the first church.

In my own case and I am afraid, in the life-stories of quite a few Christian friends, baptism has just been an act of obedience but not an identification with the precious body of Jesus Christ, His church. My baptism, which took place years ago, was done only as a proclamation to the onlooking world that I had become a follower of Jesus. I was never baptized into a church community- such was my highly individualized view of it. Here are two questions worth considering on this matter.

Has baptism become mostly an individualistic affair in contemporary, urban Christianity?

Are we letting an individualistic attitude creep into our church communities by not teaching that baptism also symbolizes the new Christian’s welcome into God’s family, the church?

When marriages serve Christ & His Church

Post 1

 

I had the joy of visiting Anil and Rekha’s home one evening, some months ago. Anil, his wife Rekha and their little son Pranav are a vital part of our church family in Wanowrie. That night I stayed over at their place and in the morning Anil and I intended to study some portion of the Bible together so that we could be encouraged by God’s Word. As we all finished some hot, yummy breakfast and sat in the sofas in the living room, I began to comprehend the problem – Pranav, at that time, hardly two years old, is a boisterous and affectionate child who loves spending time with his father. So how were we going to have time to discuss from the Bible, with Pranav running about, and clambering all over his dad and his Bible?

But Anil and I did not even see little Pranav for the next 45 minutes. He was engaged by his mother Rekha as she spent time with him in the bedroom. Could Rekha have benefited from the discussion Anil and I had? Yes. Could she have given us valuable input that would have helped us think hard about being a disciple of Jesus each day? Yes. But she chose to help her husband out by taking care of their little son.

For some, this is probably nothing extraordinary. It is something most couples with kids do, right? Take care of the kids when their spouse is busy. But what is the motive behind someone sacrificing their interests in marriage? Is it because the husband and wife are supposed to take care of one another, because it is a duty, a heavy responsibility? You better do it or else people will start portraying you as an insensitive spouse?

Like Rekha sacrificed her time for Anil, I get to see my friend Vishal regularly baby-sit his kids on Sunday and Tuesday nights. This lets his wife Esha go catch up with the church family and play board games with them. Why does Vishal wash and clean up after three children gladly?

These simple acts are more than just duty, when I see them in the larger context of Marg and its missional family gatherings. By taking care of Pranav, Rekha is declaring that her husband and her brother’s spiritual growth and well-being in Christ are more important to her than her own preferences. Her service actually helps her family grow which in turn helps the Marg church family grow. By baby-sitting for his wife, Vishal is saying without using any words, that he is willing to serve his wife and let her take a break and grow spiritually with the church family, without having to worry about three cute kids running amok around her. The body of Christ will grow only when the individual families in it align themselves to love and support both themselves and their local gathering.

Marg is essentially a church community that is a family made up of families. The Biblical concept of the church being Jesus’ family is core to each missional gathering. And as I see Rekha, Vishal and so many other married folks at Marg serve each other in various ways, I see their actions build up not just their individual families but in turn, their service builds up God’s people.

Its such a blessing to witness marriages, though imperfect, serving Jesus’ mission of loving and serving one another so that those outside the church may know the church as Jesus’ disciples by our love for one another.