Our seven year old, spunky daughter makes her way down the isle. Heart beating hard. She wants to tell everyone that Jesus is her Savior; she is ready to be baptized. The joy me and my man felt weeks before as this conversation went on at home is indescribable. There is nothing greater than your child giving their life to God! We stand beside her before a crowd , my heart smiles. I feel glad. Weeks pass while she takes classes to be sure she knows the decision she is making. Preparation.
The day arrives and my man stands alongside our child wearing matching robes. White robes for baptism Sunday. I take my seat, while family files into my row. And then I watch as they walk into the water; nervous face, not only her, but each person after. Her daddy says what he is supposed to say and he submerges her into the water. Baptized. Thankful.
Times passes. Months drift by.
Now here I am, today, two days after experiencing something that is forever burned in my brain. I am thirty four years old and have never experienced such awe, such scales falling from eyes. We walked into a church building for a Sunday morning visit, just a visit, and a chance to worship Jesus. And that is exactly what we did. Worship. The worship music moves to the message of hope and then the service comes to a close, but not before they prepare for baptism. They invite everyone to stand. What? Stand?
I look at my man. And we stand.
We rise to our feet and they begin another praise and worship song and as I stare ahead I see a man in the water on the screen. I see the pastor leaned down talking to him, their own private conversation with each other and God. I honestly stand there singing, watching this video, thinking they are playing this while they prepare to begin. And then the room is filled with clapping and praise. My eyes turn to the left and I see him stand. And while we sing I see the next lady climb in and have her own private conversation with the pastor. He is leaning down on his elbows, holding her hands and then sinks her into the water. The music is live; alive. The room cheers and I weep.
With each close, unheard conversation and each person laid under water; my tears flow harder. The music screams, arms are raised, hands are clapping. Tears are falling. I slowly turn my eyes to my man. I’m nervous. You see, he has never stepped into a service like this. Ever. For 38 years he has seen the same thing, not that it is bad. Just the same thing.
But sometimes, rituals kill.
My eyes catch His and I see it; his eyes are as full as mine. Tears. The Holy Spirit is here. He always is, but do we keep Him from moving? Is the church so caught up in making sure we do things the way they’ve been done for the last 75 years, that we miss HIM?
How can He move when the church has everything on a tight rope? There is no slack. It is this way, or no way. Or let’s vote. Vote failed. No change. No movement. The same.
I don’t want to miss Him. I can’t.
And my arms are raised and we sing…. “You’re a good good father, it’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are. And I’m loved by you. It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.” And another person goes deeper in the water. “Oh, it’s love so undeniable I, I can hardly speak. Peace so unexplainable I, I can hardly think. As you call me deeper still, as you call me deeper still into Love, Love.” I sing, loud. I lose count of the saved.
I trembled. I watched person after person profess their faith. But I’ve seen that before, many times. I stood trembling because everyone who stood watching; worshiped Jesus. For what He had done! Him. Alone. Jesus.
Jesus told his disciples in Matthew, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And that is what we do. We teach Jesus’ words to our children and our friends and family, to strangers. We know that being baptized unites us with Him. We are putting to death our old self and resurrecting a new life. We are willingly, joyfully choosing to live Gods way; not ours. For the lost person, for the person who is just making this decision, this concept is huge. This whole idea is, well, indescribable. Jesus said to Zacchaeus, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” That is why He came. That is why we are here. Why are we all not raising our arms and praising God when another person has chosen Him? When another person has said yes to Him?!
I cant give the answers because my eyes have just now seen. But what I can see is that churches put so much time and effort and energy into rituals, into rules, that the lost remain lost. The broken remain broken. Churches want you to wear what has always been worn, even though this is 2017 and that makes lost people feel uncomfortable. Churches want you to say what has always been said, even if speaking in simpler terms would help a lost person understand.
But I saw something Sunday. I saw people making lost people feel welcome, not more alone. I saw people greeting in tshirts because that’s what makes lost people comfortable. I saw a church that is going after the lost, not maintaining the saved.
Not maintaining the saved.
Jesus spoke the Great Commission, how can we be content doing anything less? Go and make disciples. When did the church become ok with maintaining?
Please do not misunderstand. I am thankful for the church. For everything it has taught me, taught my children. But we must follow Jesus’ command not only to go, but to love. What are we doing? When the church becomes so stuffy, when the walls start closing in, when we worry more about the rituals; there is no way the lost are squeezing through that door. And even if they did, they’d run. For their life.
Because sometimes, even I want to.
A man said, as if speaking directly to me, “it is not just a place we go. It’s being more alive today than yesterday.” I wrote it down. I cannot forget. I’m not sure what God has in store for me, but this I know. I am still alive today to serve Him, to serve my family, and to serve the lost. I can no longer maintain. I need to feel alive. But more than that, I need to see the lost feel the same way.
Because once I was lost. Once you were lost. Broken. Alone. Desperate for something. Maybe you have the perfect story, maybe you didn’t make the hard mistakes. But the majority of us did; and what I know for sure….is I need a Savior like I need my next breath. And I want to be part of something that fills that need for others. Fills the lost and broken with Hope.
Jesus said, why are you looking over there for hope when I. Am. Right. Here? They just need help seeing. And so do we.
The church is not here to only maintain the saved. The saved are here to seek the lost. In order for us to do our part, the church needs to loosen their grip. They need to let some rituals die so that life can be found for the lost and broken. Otherwise they remain that way. Lost. And. Broken.