March 7, 2013

Easter always brings with it the possibility for baptism. On the Sunday we celebrate new life in Christ, it is a great time to make a public commitment to the Risen One. Some Easters there aren’t many who are ready to make this commitment, but this Easter, I am in conversation with several young people who are eager to enter the baptismal waters.

When is a person ready for baptism? This has become an important question in my baptism conversations. Baptists profess believers’ baptism: the candidate should be old enough to understand the commitment he or she is making, and old enough to freely chose it for him or herself. This raises the question of age – at what age can this decision be made? Interestingly, I am talking with a 2nd grader who insists he is ready for baptism, and a few 7th graders who aren’t sure if they are yet old enough for this important step in their faith. In addition, I am talking with two younger siblings whose older siblings have not yet chosen baptism. But unlike many things in kid’s lives, baptism isn’t one that has a set age fixed to it.

Baptism is all about claiming your faith as your own. Rather than age, one’s interest in taking this important step, and one’s ability to understand what this means, is important. It is true that the older teens have a more developed understanding of what it means to make this commitment than elementary school kids, but readiness in not dependent on the maturity of understanding, rather the seriousness of the commitment being made. I am just as adamant that one should not take this step if he or she does not feel ready to take it as I am that one should take this step if they are ready – regardless of their age. At whatever age we make this decision, we face a lifetime of coming to a more full understanding of what it means to live out our commitment to Christ.

Perhaps as important as making this decision, at whatever age, is the making of the ongoing decision to live out your commitment to Christ. And that is the question we who have been baptized are repeatedly faced with. After having entered the baptismal waters, how are we continuing to claim our faith as our own? How are we continuing to love and serve God? These are questions I encourage you to reflect upon Easter Sunday, as we celebrate those who are making public their own commitment to do the same.