Okay, it was a long time ago now that I last blogged concerning the topic of Christian Baptism. But I do have one more thing to add concerning this topic. Baptism does involve immersion but, in my way of thinking, it’s a different kind of immersion. It is immersion into the character of Jesus, so much that we act out the very thoughts, words, deeds of Jesus in our everyday lives.
Let me throw out an analogy of how baptism would work in our lives if it were by this type of immersion. Most of us have seen the difference between good acting and poor acting in plays or movies. By history, this difference often has to do with the employment of what the film industry in America calls “method actors.” A method actor/actress, borrowing from the system first originated in Russia back at the turn of the 20th century, so immerses himself/herself into the character he/she is portraying that the audience itself actually confuses that actor/actress with the character. A typical question method actors must answer going into their role is, “What would motivate me, the actor, to behave in the way the character does?”
Such method acting calls for its adherents to “immerse” themselves into that character’s thoughts, feelings, and circumstances.
So here’s my question today as you read this: What would motivate you, the baptized Christian, to behave in the way Jesus does? Can you immerse yourself into his own thoughts, feelings, and circumstances? Can you adapt to his scenery? Can you leave your little sanctuary sound stage and go out on location as he did? Can you confuse others into thinking you might actually be Jesus? Check out this story for further illustration: http://www.allworship.com/apple-cart/
In Luke 10, Jesus sends out 72 missionaries into the villages he will later be going into. Matthew 10 reports a similar action, where Jesus essentially teaches his followers to “go and be me,” as it were. Luke 10:16 carries these words, “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
And now comes the critical question we must each one, as baptized Christians, ask ourselves. Am I a good actor or a bad actor when I play the role of Jesus? Are people going to want to come and see me the way they would a play or movie with great acting? Or are they more apt to stay away because of the poor acting? This, my friends, is what the Church must learn to do as well as the Hollywood studios do. We must do so well at “method acting” that the Church’s audience can realistically confuse us with Jesus. That is “Baptism” by immersion. It is “Methodism” in the truest sense of the term (I’m a United Methodist myself still struggling to live into my role as Jesus in today’s world). It is “method acting” AND ALSO BAPTISM in the best sense of the term.