Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A New Thing

Sometimes, even I am disturbed by the things I say. Not so much for the thing itself, but for how it might be perceived as contrary to the Gospel. Case-in-point is my belief that we, as Christian people, are called to radical inclusion. For example, in Matthew 5: 44-45 it says, But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.”

For Jesus to say that God’s sun (Son) shines on the good and the bad, and God’s love rains (reigns) on the righteous and unrighteous is a statement of inclusion, an inclusion that is far beyond the expectation of the day, of this day. As I said in my sermon on January 6, 2013, in Christ there is no division, all are to be included, there are no more us and them; Jew and gentile; Christian and Muslim; conservative and liberal; rich and poor; male and female; black and white and red and brown; brave and cowardly; married and single; gay and straight; young and old, and; Islander and come-from-away.

Now to the disturbing part; in Matthew 28: 19 we read 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” This is usually understood to mean that we should go out and baptize as many people as possible and make them Christians. But baptism is not to be about the conversion of people of other faiths and sprinkling a bit of water on someone’s head. In the Bible it is about forgiveness, inclusion and love.

When we consider the gospel imperative of Matthew 28: 19 – baptism is about forgiveness, inclusion and showing (by our actions) that God’s Son shines and God’s love reigns on all of us, on people of every faith (and of no faith) – we see baptism as Jesus intended.


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