I was sitting in the hospital. The clock read 3am and my wife was sleeping in the bed next to me. She was recovering from surgery, and we were rotating on the night watch. Neither of us had slept much. We were both exhausted, but it was my turn, rightfully so. I sat there then, watching reruns on the T.V. reading the closed captions, while this little, tiny child laid snuggled into my chest, completely unassuming and safe. Babies are truly amazing. They are a glimpse of God’s goodness and mercy. Yet, there is something about them. They are utterly helpless. Babies have very little to worry about in their day. They simply need to eat, sleep, and that’s right, poop. When they do eat? They are fed, laying there not using their hands. When they sleep? They are held, not to be left alone. When they… well, you know. They do not move except for a few wiggles and squirms, and then they simply wait. They are held, they are carried, they are fed, they are bathed, when they crap their pants they just wait to be cleaned up, and they are passive in all of it.
As I sat there that night, holding my newborn son, I couldn’t help but ponder the great mystery of baptism. There are multiple views about what takes place when someone is brought to the waters of Holy Baptism, some might argue that it is simply a symbol representing new life. Others might say that once they are old enough to decide to follow Jesus, it is only then they can take the plunge into the inflatable swimming pool. Yet as I held my son, it was the perfect representation of how our Heavenly Father deals with us, His children. Joel Hess hit the nail on the head recently in saying “Infant baptism isn’t the exception but the rule. From God’s perspective, everyone is an infant.”
That’s right. You’re nothing but a baby. An infant. You are helpless. I am too. At least, before God this is true. Before God, we have nothing good to offer. We are unable to do anything to provide ourselves with what we spiritually need. Even more, we are unable to save ourselves. Instead, we simply lie there longing to be held. We cry out for attention when we are uncomfortable, hungry, and scared. We soil ourselves in sin and we can’t find a way to clean up the mess, so we just sit there in our filth. That’s right, all of us, you reading this now and I as I write, are just babies in the eyes of God.
God does everything. It is all His work. We are passive, simply just receiving everything that he has to offer. Therefore, the Christian life is best seen as baptismal life, and baptism is best for babies because babies won’t try to take any of the credit. They won’t try and logically make the choice. Babies can’t even get to the font on their own, they certainly aren’t trying to take credit for their salvation. No, babies simply receive the gift of God’s love and mercy as they wiggle around in the arms of their parents, being washed, renewed, reborn, and adopted. God wipes away your sin and makes you His child who He will provide and care for forever.
Yet, His care doesn’t end in baptism. It doesn’t end when you physically grow older and older, because “from God’s perspective everyone is an infant.” This never ends. As you grow, God continues to spiritually give you all you need. When you are hungry and crying out for food, He places heavenly food in your mouth. As your face is downcast, He comforts you and lifts your eyes through His word. When you soil yourself in sin time and again, He washes you clean in His words of forgiveness. From your baptism on, God’s gift of mercy and grace will come to you while you remain there passively, receiving all the good things He gives. Finally, when you have grown old and frail, when you take your last breath, you will be in the arms of your Father. Just as a little child lays nestled into a father’s arms unassuming and safe, so will you, dear Christian. You will be held in the care of your Heavenly Father, until Christ returns. So do not cry like a baby cries, for you belong to God and He loves and cares for you.