Things are getting exciting as our ministry continues to grow here in Milaca, MN. And with growth comes tension as new people coming together from different walks and perspectives begin to realize that not everyone is going to agree on everything we do as a fellowship. I found myself confronting that tension as one of our families has asked me to baptize their infant child.
I had to wrestle with the idea for a while in my spirit. You see, I love the Lord, and He has shown me that it is better to baptize those after they believe as they are already covered under their father or mother’s faith until they can know the Lord and choose Him on their own. Knowing that, I had to decide. Will the Spirit of God bless my actions in baptizing an infant, and will it bring honor to His Name? As always, The Spirit led me to find the answer in His Word. Paul writes,
16 Therefore, no one is to act as your judge in regard to food and drink, or in respect to a festival or a new moon, or a Sabbath day— 17 things which are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Col. 2:16-17
What this means is that we can give grace to those whom God has revealed himself in slightly different ways that do not go directly against the scriptures. Think about this? We live in a time where people are fleeing our mainline denominations because of severe compromise and acceptance of sin. Today, as we wait for our votes to be counted in the presidential election, we can see how broken our denominations have become as we have allowed holiness to be defined by majority vote.
All around us, we are seeing the foundation being built for the next great reform and reformation in the Bride of Christ. People from all denominations and churches are fleeing into the wilderness and are regrouping into likeminded fellowships that are hungry for the living Word of God to be preached with boldness and without compromise.
And the only way that this reform can take place, is if each of us are willing to give doctrinal grace in the grey areas of scripture that we bring with us as we leave the denominations of our youth. How can a Catholic and a protestant take communion together as each have been taught about it so differently? God will bless it as we realize that there is only one fellowship and one cup, and in our love for our brothers and sisters we can sit at the same table together and share His cup in love.
Baptism is just another one of those tensions that are caused, as clashing theological backgrounds tend to project more division in the body of Christ. Therefore, it is not my job as a pastor to withhold baptism form someone because my doctrinal background is different. My job is to help every person that God brings my way to get closer to Christ and to help our fellowship to worship Him in unity.
All of this to say, that in these new ministries, we need to agree to disagree on the grey areas of scripture and doctrine that follow us into our fellowship. In fact, what was seen as a danger to most denominations can actually be a blessing. For how can we sharpen our swords if we all regurgitate the same concepts about Christ? Rather, God will deepen all of our understanding as we faithfully see Christ through slightly different perspectives as the scriptures become alive as the Holy Spirit teaches us all things. We will grow in grace together as we ask questions and struggle with these tensions with joy. As long as we can stand on the Word of God (to be our authority) and can defend our doctrinal differences, no one should be forced to go against what God has revealed to them in regards to matters like baptism.
I look forward to the first baptism that will be administered in our new local fellowship here in Milaca. I pray that it will be a sign for all who have fled from their churches and are seeking Christian fellowship. This is a safe place to worship the Lord. We are not alone. We may never fully agree on every aspect of doctrine and theology, but we can love each other enough to stand hand in hand and worship our King in unity and holiness.