Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A Tool or a Club!

I closed out my lesson Sunday on God's Tool of Baptism, by addressing the fact that some folks would be very uncomfortable with calling baptism a tool. Connotatively, it may mean to some that baptism is WAY TOO optional if it's called a tool. Frankly, I thought, prayed, and meditated a long time before I added baptism to my list of God's Tools just for that very reason. Not that I was so worried about the attacks from others, but I was a little uncomfortable with it myself. But the more I chewed on it the more I became convinced that a tool is exactly what God gave us. Like communion, God used something physical to symbolize something spiritual, and not because He wanted to give us some ceremonial or sacramental activity to perform, but to help us focus on matters of faith. He provided us with a physical connection to something spiritual because we needed it. So with communion, He picked items that were on every table every time anyone got together and used it as a tool to help us think of Jesus and His body - the church. It never was meant to be a religious ritual. With baptism, thanks to the word being transliterated rather than translated, we now have twenty centuries of a "named" religious act, when it was originally a description of beginning again, cleansing, and total commitment. He again used something that was a part of life and religion, and turned it into something that would help us know when our spiritual birth began, when we connected with God's love and Jesus' sacrifice, and how completely we are immersed in Him. We needed it! It helps us! It's not about the performance of some mysterious rite.
So, does the word tool sound too soft - too optional? Not if it's the tool that works. We get way too hung up on discovering "essentials" and then throwing down the gauntlet to fight and die on our spiritual correctness. Here are three questions I asked Sunday for the benefit of those who fear I'm watering down baptism (pun intended).
1. Which tool from God is non-essential? Here's my list: Prayer, the Holy Spirit, leaders, trials, the Word, witnessing, the church, communion, love, giving, singing, encouraging, baptism, & grace. Which one or ones is/are okay to leave off, ignore, abuse, or reject?
2. Which tool or tools do you use perfectly? Have you misunderstood or forgotten to use some of these at times in your life? Like now? Are you okay with that? I mean - being wrong and in error? Aren't you glad that God's more interested in your direction than He is your perfection?
3. Which tool is not impacted by God's grace? Review your answers to #1 & #2.
When God said He has given us "all things that pertain to life and godliness," He was saying that He gave us all the tools we needed to seek, find, and build a relationship with Him.


elizabeth said...

Another great post!!

Anonymous said...

Sore toes again.
It is sooooo much easier to have a check list instead of worrying about my heart!!!
But, with that comes a peace...it is a heart matter, and my heart is seeking.....I am only perfect thru Jesus. Thank God and His Son for that.

Deborah said...


I always feel sorry for people who take grace out of the mix and worship the tool, whatever that tool may be.