Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Jesus and the "Victory of the Immersion"

I have been thinking a lot about the way we evangelize in our brotherhood. SO many times I hear people speaking in ways that imply that the only “successful” evangelism is the acts that ended in baptism. I was recently talking to a guy who made it clear he was only interested in immersing the folks he reached out to. He would NOT be content with planting seeds or sharing some of the truth of Gospel, he would consider it a failure if he didn’t get to dunk the fella’!

Is it me or does this just feel entirely wrong? I think of Jesus’ words in Luke 13. He essentially said many will try to enter into the gates of heaven but few will get in. That statement would not fly in most of our churches’ classes on evangelism. What I think Jesus was essentially saying was we are not to be concerned about the quantity saved but the quality. This is consistent with His actions everywhere we see him in the gospels.
Have we changed His methods to attract unbelievers and altered His message to make it easy on interested hearers. Most often the very truths I read from Jesus that ignited hearts of the lost in His day are left out of today’s mission efforts. It seems to me that he was more direct and willing to tackle the hard parts that we have to do. He forced them to count the costs. And then He never seemed to “share the whole Gospel”. He would leave it to the hearers to listen, decide and change for themselves. I am sure many of those he shared with were later saved and Jesus was nowhere around to witness it. Would we consider His efforts a failure then?
I don’t know. It just got me really thinking. This is a much abbreviated version of my internal dialogue. What do you guys think?

baptism Pictures, Images and Photos


pdiddy said...

the story of jesus is about transforming our life. about looking at others and loving them uncontrollably. without borders. valuing our neighbor.

for me. salvation is a loaded religious word.
for me. it means being made new every day.
for me. it's living the resurrection on a daily basis.
for me. it's saving what it holy here on earth.

rituals in the church are beautiful symbols that draw us together as a community. they are not exclusionary practices. they are a shared response to what is sacred around us.

it makes me sad when i see other people missing the point. it makes me more sad when i miss the point.

my point is that it isn't all about doing the deed so we can get a reward after we die. i have no idea what comes next. i read about a garbage dump and a mansion. metaphor. symbols. those things pale in comparison to the reality i see before me.


for me. true hope isn't worrying about an afterlife. it's making sure i give and forgive and die to myself in this one.

Brian Pannell said...

The Jesus story does transform lives, you are correct. It does so because it IS love and it IS truth. I understand how you could say possibly the "methods we devise to salvation" have been "religified"..... :)But salvation is not just a "loaded word" is a fact that I pray for all of us!

I am not implying that our efforts shoudl be totally driven by afterlife rewards at all. This was evident in teh commands of Jesus to bring heaven to earth!

Yet I do beleive there is an afterlife and it is hugely affected by our actions and choices.

pdiddy said...

the jews had no idea of heaven or hell. "sheol" was the grave. all throughout the hebrew bible, god's judgement was final. when people like abraham died, they went to sleep with their fathers.

only in the christian texts do we find a more defined understanding of an afterlife. and even then, it is relayed in metaphorical terms like gehenna, being the garbage dump outside of the city and heaven being a mansion with many rooms "up there".

it took hundreds of years for the idea of an afterlife to evolve between the late prophetic texts and the gospels. the idea further evolved with the greek idea of hades and the revelation of john.

my point is that the hebrew and christian texts have a very evolving and unclear idea of afterlife. much of it, most likely was gained from the many hundreds of years the jews spent in captivity. the babylonians and eqyptians had every well defined and documented ideas of punishment and paradise.

christianity's idea of aftelife has grown over two thousand years. it still grows today.

the point is. we don't know. you are welcome to pick out verses and read into them whatever you want. but the waters are very muddy. there isn't a clear understanding because the bible is a document written by many men over hundreds and hundreds of years. it is their struggle to understand god.

i am not afraid. i am not looking past this place to paradise.

i'm trying my best to alleviate hell for those here on earth. by loving. and giving. and feeding. and clothing.

for me, true hope is not escaping this earth to experience eternal bliss for ever and ever. it's making this place better for my kids.

the afterlife can wait.

Brian Pannell said...

thats cool. I too am doing all can, liek I said to bring heaven to those trapped in hell on earth. I have devoted my life to it......

Yet still, i will choose to wade also in the "muddy waters".

pdiddy said...

i choose to wade in the muddy waters of the bible as well. lots of gems.

we are co-laborers.