"The love of Christ constraineth us" (2Co
Remarks at a baptism
Today we witness a baptism, an act familiar to us all through
years of repetition. An act perhaps so familiar to some of us, that it is very
difficult to recall the wonder and awe with which we ourselves submitted to it,
years ago. And so we must ask ourselves: Why do we do this?
The Scriptures give several answers:
But, most of all (and lest we forget), we should be baptized
because... Christ loves us! "For the love of Christ constraineth us" -- -- not
just his power, not just his holiness, and certainly not just our fear of him.
But Christ's love is the motivating force that brings us to the water. Christ's
love... and God's love: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His
only-begotten Son...", and "delivered him up for us all" (Rom 8:32).
- Because it is commanded (Mat 28:19,20);
- Because, being no longer
ignorant of the call of Christ, we now know what is required of us (Acts
- Because rejection brings punishment (John 12:48); and
baptism represents the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Rom
Such a love frightens us with its intensity. It is the
fervency of emotion that is, imperfectly, demonstrated by a father's love for
his child -- a pitying, sympathetic, compassionate love that knows no limits and
makes no conditions (Psa 103:13).
"The love of Christ constraineth us" -- -- it draws us and
compels us, by an appeal to our inmost selves. Whatever we do for God (as though
we could do anything for Him!) must be done out of love. No other motive can, in
the final assessment, have any meaning. Our love must reciprocate that of Him
who first loved us. Our devotion must echo His devotion.
"...Because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were
all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth
live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." We
hear, so often, do we not, that baptism is a "death"? And "death" sounds so
painful, so fearful, so final! But this baptismal "death" -- with all it implies
-- is not so. It is a joyful, loving, grateful response: "I give up my old life
freely, because my new life in Christ will be so much better."
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth
in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son
of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal
Our obedience in baptism, then, cannot be just an intellectual
agreement to certain facts and principles. But it must be, finally and foremost,
an emotional commitment of our whole beings to the revelation of God's amazing
love through Christ. The Almighty God, who spans the heavens with His hands,
needs no temple of wood or stone made with our hands. The cattle on a thousand
hills are His already; we could not "give" them to Him, no matter how we try.
One thing, and one thing only, remains ours exclusively, the "treasure" that can
never be His until we offer it to Him, in rapturous response to the miracle of
His love made flesh to die for us. Listen, he is asking now:
"My son, my daughter...
Give Me your heart!"