Monday, September 17, 2007

There's Water, Why Not?

The baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch reads like a parable for our post-modern culture. Riding solo in the back of his SUV, the royal slave is listening to religious poetry on his MP3, bobbing his head to the beat. He knew the tune was spiritual, which was the nature of his journey, but he couldn't decode its truth.

He needed explanation and got it from Philip, who explained everything--through narrative, not dogma. "Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, he preached Jesus to him" (8:35).

The eunuch lowered the volume and keyed in. He listened, hungry for meaning. And when he saw water, he asked the question, "Why not get baptized?" He had the anti-lock breaks slammed, and he and Philip rushed from the vehicle.

The royal servant wanted to validate his knowledge with experience. Immediately. True religion is more than principle, it is expression (Jas 1:27). But when there's too great a pause, expression becomes performance.

Yesterday I performed my first baptism since becoming a pastor. Four youth from the church had decided to obey the ordinance. Their relationship with Jesus began long ago, but their decision for baptism had been stalled by a gap in pastors, lack of planning, and busy summer schedules. These are excuses of the modern church.

We are in a different era. Spiritually curious people may not be patient for the performance. Fortunately, in the greater Warsaw area there are lakes everywhere.

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