The simple truth of believer’s baptism

It was my turn to teach the kiddos at our church on Sunday, and I was sweating bullets. Kids don’t normally make me sweat (at least not all the time), but I was teaching a big lesson this week – the account of Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3 – so I was particularly nervous.

It was also a big day in the life of our church plant; we were baptizing four new believers in the pool of the hotel where we meet for worship. Some of the candidates for baptism had children in my class, and I knew they might have questions as they watched their parent enter into believer’s baptism.

So, I prepped for our lesson like I was teaching a systematic theology course. I consulted my favorite Bible dictionary. I looked in my commentary on Matthew. I boiled down the purpose and significance of Jesus’ baptism in three “easy” points for the kids to remember.

I packed in a video and two crafts illustrating the who, what, and how of the biblical account.

I even brought in two action figures and dunked them in a container of water colored with blue food coloring to give the kids a hands-on picture of the important ordinance.

(Yes, I do realize this is getting ridiculous).

But in my mind, I wanted to be prepared for those difficult questions I wholeheartedly believed would be flung at me like bullets from an A & K semi-automatic.  Questions like, “Why did Jesus have to be baptized?” Or “Does baptism ‘save’ us?”

And the question I dreaded the most: “What’s up with that dove in the story? Is God a bird?”

So, after all that preparation, can you guess how many questions were fired at me?

None.

Zip.

Zero.

Zilch.

In fact, with a room of 15 kids – all under the age of five – I spent the majority of my time wiping glue (and maybe boogers) off hands, making peace treaties, and trying (but not succeeding) to assemble all my troops at the same time. At one point, my pastor’s wife and I looked at each other and laughed because we were quite literally dripping with sweat. Yes, kids ministry often feels like the front lines of battle.

But even though I didn’t get to outline my three “easy” points regarding baptism, I know our time together was not wasted.  Because shortly after our “lesson,” we led the preschoolers to the hotel swimming pool where they watched our pastor baptize family and friends.

The children heard their fathers profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

The children heard the precious phrase:  “Buried with him in baptism

…And raised to walk in newness of life,” watching as their loved ones identified with Christ and his powerful resurrection (Rom.6:3-4).

While I reflected on my unfounded fears later that day, I came to the conclusion that while preparation is vital when teaching the Bible, it is the simple truths whispered to little ears by the Spirit that find the most resonance.

Bells and whistles on Bible lessons are like the glue and glitter in Sunday School crafts, they rarely stick where you want them to and mostly scatter in the carpet. Although you might see a few sparkle or shimmer from the floor out the corner of your eye, they will hardly be of use again and nearly impossible to gather up. The simple truths of Scripture need no adornment.

And as if to illustrate my conclusion, one of the twins interrupted my contemplation.

Zach: “Mom?”

Me: “Yes?”

Zach: “I want to put my trust in Jesus, Mom.”

Me:  “That’s wonderful Zach! What made you say that?”

Zach: “I want to go down into the water and come back out again.”

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit works in (and, in my case, in spite of) our efforts to bring new life.

Does that mean I will discard my pinchet for lessons with three-point lists? Probably not, but I now know that any victory gained on the battle field of the children’s Sunday School room comes only by the hand of the Lord, who through his Spirit, pricks tiny hearts with his powerful love for them.

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

 Matthew 3:16-17

About melissa deming

Melissa Deming is a freelance writer transplanted from Texas to Pennsylvania with her husband of ten years, Jonathan, and two-year-old identical twins, Zacharias and Jonah. The family serves at a Southern Baptist church plant in Pittsburgh - Living Faith Community Church. Melissa is a regular correspondent for The Southern Baptist TEXAN newspaper and Crossroads magazine of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. She is also the creator and author of HiveResources.com - a site designed to sweeten a woman's walk with Christ through devotional articles, book reviews, and giveaways. Melissa holds a Masters of Divinity in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, and a B.A. in Journalism from Texas A&M University.