A Surprising Confession
I have to admit that I was surprised when she said it. “I have to tell you something,” she said, “I never answer the question. I never say, ‘We do, God helping us.’” We had just gotten done with another wonderful baptism service at Hillside. The babies were cute and the parents were proud. And God was, as always, good and faithful. She liked the service. She believes in infant baptism. But when Daniel or I asked the question—Do you, the people of the Lord, promise to receive this child in love, pray for him, help care for his instruction in the faith, and encourage and sustain him in the fellowship of believers?—she didn’t join everyone else in saying, “We do, God helping us.”
Forgiveness or Affirmation?
You might think that I should have chewed her out. But I didn’t. Because I understood what she was saying. She felt like she couldn’t say those words because she wasn’t doing enough to help the kids at Hillside grow in their faith.You see, she didn’t stay silent because she didn’t take the question seriously. She stayed quiet because she took the question so seriously. She recognized that by saying those words—We do, God helping us—she was making a commitment that she wasn’t sure that she was able to keep. She recognized that by saying those words she was entering into a covenant with that child and the parents and was committing herself to the spiritual growth of that child. I appreciated her taking these words so seriously.
So what are we committing to when we answer that baptismal question? How can we make that promise in good faith and then live it out? You might already be doing more than you had thought you were. Praying for the kids at Hillside is something that all of us ought to regularly be doing. Maybe you can remind yourself to make that part of your daily prayers. When you give to the general fund at Hillside you are helping to provide for activities and lessons for kids at church. Helping to make Hillside a kid-friendly church by affirming children (a smile can mean so much) and letting kids be kids (they do like to run and dance around) is a great way to live out the baptismal promise. And there are numerous volunteer opportunities in children and youth ministries at Hillside. Whether it’s volunteering to provide a meal or cookies for a D-Team (High School small group) or cutting out crafts during the week for the Sunday activities, you’re making a difference and keeping the covenant. You may not think about it this way, but helping in the nursery is a great way to keep this promise. Not only are you loving the kids, you’re giving their parents—who have the primary responsibility to raise their kids to know the Lord—an opportunity to learn and grow in a worship service.
So I hope my friend begins to feel okay answering the question. She really is doing a good deal to help raise the kids to know the Lord. I hope all of us can grab the amazing opportunity we have in front of us—the opportunity to help a child know and love Jesus.
I’d love to hear what you think.