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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Baptism makes us children of God and part of the heavenly family

Baptism makes us children of God and part of the heavenly family

Some people assume that once they are baptized, then they can just sail along for the rest of their lives on the grace of their baptism. This would surely make baptism into some kind of magical event, instead of being the faith event that it is.

Baptism brings us into the community of faith. We become children of God. We become part of God’s family – God is our Father, Jesus is our brother, the Holy Spirit guides us through life.

As we grow in faith, God expects us to give some energy to the faith we have received. If we stop nourishing it, our faith may die.

If we see our faith as a rigid and motionless reality, something that does not move or grow, then everything becomes quite simple. All we need to do is get ourselves baptized, carry out our basic religious obligations, sit back, and wait for the rewards to pour in. We hope to enjoy a sense of peace in this life, and eternal happiness in the next.

This is the image of faith is similar to money that we deposit in the bank. Once it is in the bank, we can forget about it until we need it. It gains interest for us, and we do not have to do anything with it.

This is the choice of those living a faith life that is shallow and superficial, with no real depth. This kind of faith seeks only the comfort and security that come from religion. It avoids the hard questions of life and is frightened if anyone challenges or questions any aspect of it. This is not the kind of faith we find in the lives of the people in the Bible.

In the Scriptures, faith is pictured as a difficult journey to unknown places. God called Abraham to set out on a journey to a place to which he had never been. His only guide would be God. He needed to spend plenty of energy. He had to be alert as he moved from place to place.

The hardships and insecurity of travel in those ancient times were well known. Being on a journey was not anyone’s idea of a vacation. You might not come back alive! Danger was all around. On such a journey you could not afford to be distracted.

We fight against distractions by being focused. Whether we are driving a car or walking on the side of a highway, or operating some dangerous machinery, we all have to practice the art of being focused. Without it, we can quickly fall into dangerous and perhaps fatal situations. Having a focused faith involves seeing the faith implications in every human situation.

We shouldn’t let our life in the world distract us from God’s plan for us. Faith is belief. Faith is trust. Faith is living lives that reflect our belief and our trust. Faith requires that we be attentive to life and to all that life brings our way.

Our faith believes that God is to be found anywhere and at any time. A person with this kind of faith senses that his or her response to every person and every situation is ultimately a faith response. This is so because he or she believes that God is made known through the ordinary events of life.

Maybe a neighbor is in need, a family member in distress, a threat to the environment, an obvious injustice – all these things require our ready response as people who trust that God is present everywhere. When we make a response to these persons and situations, we do so with a belief and a trust that we are being sent by God who supports us as we reach out in love.

God will give us the grace we need to overcome any situation.