The Mission of the Church: Wrapping Up, Part 6 (Community Disciplines, Part 2)

 

Eucharist-Mission1Community discipline 3: Eucharist

I’ll be uncharacteristically brief — having covered this before.

  1. Give your small groups permission to take the Lord’s Supper as part of their common meal — a love feast — as well as the congregational Lord’s Supper at the Sunday morning assembly. I personally guaranty you that Jesus won’t be offended that you remembered his sacrifice twice instead of just once. In fact, powerful things will happen if you do this. You might want to plan some assembly time for a testimony or two six months into the change.
  2. Take communion in a joint service with another congregation or congregations. “Love one another” is not bounded by your membership list. Every church in town should feel loved by you — and if you love them, you’ll want to eat with them. And if you want to eat with them, you’ll want to do so in the name of Jesus — which only naturally leads to the Eucharist.

Community discipline 4: Baptism

Yes, I’ve read about the Ethiopian eunuch. But I’ve also read Acts 2. And Gal 3. And every other baptismal passage — real or just barely arguable — and while the baptism “takes” on the road to Ethiopia, its design is community in nature.

Every recorded NT baptism was by a Christian. Unlike the Jewish mikveh washings for cleanliness, baptism was by a church member of a non-church member. That was a change and, surely, for a reason. And part of the reason for the change is that baptism means God adds you to a real, present, living community. You aren’t merely forgiven and saved. You are forgiven and saved into the Kingdom — added to the number of those already forgiven and saved.

In Acts 2, when 3,000 people were baptized, they didn’t go home and begin daily Bible reading. They ate together. They studied together. They praised God together. They were immediately and powerfully formed into community. Baptism in the name of Jesus Messiah into the remission of sin was into community.

There is something about a baptism that, if we’ll let it, can be transformative of the whole Christian community. I mean, my church applauds. Sometimes we shout and cheer. We celebrate. This is followed by intercessory prayer, and sometimes hands are laid on the new Christian (I’ve done this myself).

We’re too low-church to ever ritualize all this, but we long ago got over the sad notion that celebrating a baptism in church is not “decent and in order.” In fact, being reserved and meditative at such an event is pretty indecent and disorderly to my way of thinking.

(Phil. 4:4 ESV)  4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

(1 Thess. 5:16-19 ESV) 16 Rejoice always,  17 pray without ceasing,  18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  19 Do not quench the Spirit.

How do we love one another? Well, for one thing, we celebrate baptisms. Hugs, well wishes, prayers, hands, all that. When I see you pray for my newly baptized daughter, well, that’s a bond that’ll last a very long time.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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12 Responses to The Mission of the Church: Wrapping Up, Part 6 (Community Disciplines, Part 2)

  1. adsmith77 says:

    Jay, we had a baptism recently and did something a bit differently. I’ve often compared baptism to a baptism ceremony, so I asked the young lady being baptized, “Do you promise to love, honor and obey Jesus for the rest of your life?”, to which she responded, “I do.” I then said, “Something you will learn when you get married is that you marry the family of your husband as well. In a similar manner, you are marrying God’s family today.” I then asked the congregation to take a vow, “Do you promise to always love Susan, to be there for her when she is in need, to encourage her, and to help her to be more like Jesus?” to which the church responded, “I do.” It was a beautiful expression of the communal nature of baptism that you spoke of.

  2. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Adsmith,

    Great story! We should all do that.

  3. Mark says:

    Adsmith,
    That is a shorter version of what the liturgical churches have been using for a long time where the sponsors and congregation are asked to respond. Also, everyone is reminded of their own baptism when the congregation is sprinkled with water using an aspergillum during the processional on every baptism Sunday.

  4. laymond says:

    Is this just for show, or do you think it accomplishes something. ? You do realize that 50% of marriages end in divorce don’t you.?
    If the one being baptized had been male would you have done the same thing, or would that have been same sex marriage ?

  5. Dwight says:

    It is apt in all occasions, whether male or female, as we are the church and the church is called the bride of Jesus. It is a good reminder of our commitment and acceptance. Sometimes I think we think that there is almost a stronger bond between male and female in marriage, then between us and Christ in baptism.

  6. adsmith77 says:

    Laymond,
    I would agree with Dwight’s comments. As for the question, “Is this just for show?”, the answer is, “Absolutely not!” You quote the 50% statistic on divorce, but that means nothing to me. I have been doing weddings for almost 40 years, and of those weddings that were accompanied by pre-marital counseling (which is all of them over the past 30 years), I do not know of any of those marriages that have ended in divorce.
    When we get people to understand that a wedding is not a ceremony, it is a commitment based on love, it will last. When we get people to understand that baptism is not a ceremony to get rid of my sins, it is a commitment to Jesus Christ based on my love for him, and a commitment to his people, it will last.

  7. Larry Cheek says:

    adsmith77,
    In your comment, “When we get people to understand that baptism is not a ceremony to get rid of my sins, it is a commitment to Jesus Christ based on my love for him, and a commitment to his people, it will last.” Are you really removing the concept of forgiveness of sins from baptism? What ever would give you the idea that baptism does not fulfill both categories ( the point in which sins are forgiven by Christ and a commitment to Christ)? Upon what scripture are you basing the concept that baptism is a commitment to Christs people?

  8. adsmith77 says:

    Larry, I am not suggesting that baptism has nothing to do with forgiveness. But baptism itself doesn’t get rid of anyone’s sin (and certainly not when it is viewed as a ceremony or ritual), the blood of Jesus Christ does. What baptism does is to join me together with Christ (thus, the marriage analogy)

    As for which scripture indicates that becoming a Christian is a commitment to Christ’s people, take your pick among the hundreds of “one another” passages — “love one another”, “bear with one another”, “bear one another’s burdens”, “encourage one another, “serve one another”, etc., etc., etc. If baptism puts me into God’s family, it also puts me into the responsibilities that God requires of His family, which means being committed to one another’s well-being.

  9. Larry Cheek says:

    adsmith77,
    I can see your point clearly now, but what was throwing my understanding was (a commitment) to his people seemed to suggest that his people had some authority in the new covert. I am sure that you and many others can relate to many Christian organizations which create rules that are not part of Christs teachings. A new Christian could be disciplined for rules designed by the organization which would not be Biblical. I am fully aware of actions by people who are considered as God’s people.

  10. Larry Cheek says:

    Addition to last sentence, who have enforced doctrines which cannot be found in scripture.

  11. Dwight says:

    I John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
    Our fellowship with Christ automatically places us in fellowship with other saints, thus because we are committed to Christ we are committed to others in Christ. This commitment is in love.
    “If you love God you will keep His commandments”, but this isn’t true of man. Our love for man will cause us to do things for their best interest, even though it might be going against man’s commands, in lieu of God’s commands.
    Ironically a commitment to God and another might cause us to withdraw our daily fellowship from another when they sin so they can reconnect with Christ.
    The marriage bond to Christ doesn’t stop until we reject Christ and turn to the world, but the covenant is still there, until God decides to break it. Fortunately for us God is long-suffering and patient and kind and loving. Israel committed fornication many times and God still kept the covenant, when he could have divorced them for their unfaithfullness.

  12. Larry Cheek says:

    Even some of the Apostles and some of the missionaries in The NT could not get along all of the time. Seems they had to distance themselves from each other for a while.

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