I find myself drawing rapidly toward Christmas and the end of this task that I have set myself, to contemplate the teachings of Christ daily until we celebrate His birth. Some of these posts have been difficult to write and others seem to pour out of me. I thought I would write tonight about Christ’s teaching of baptism. This is one of those posts that is difficult to write. Yesterday’s post on repentance was also difficult. The question for me is why do I find these topics difficult to write about. After some reflection I believe I have the answer to that question. These are not the inspirational topics about love, sacrifice, courage or service that are easily accepted by the casual reader. Topics like repentance, baptism, prophets and priesthood can be divisive and possibly offensive to some. And honestly I fear to offend my loved ones.
But wait does not John teach:
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:18.
And did not Paul advise Timothy:
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…
2 Timothy 1:7-8
And of course Christ told his disciples:
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him… Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
John 14: 21, 27.
So why should I fear to broach these more challenging subjects? When I was 10 or 11 maybe I was walking across town with a friend of mine. As we passed through a subdivision a dog came crashing through a wooded area to my left barking his ill intent toward us. I was frightened and moved quickly to place my friend between me and the dog. Of course, it turned out to be a little dog whose bark was louder than his bite but my fear had gotten the better of me. I was deeply ashamed. So much so that the experience has stayed with me all these years.
Not much later I was crossing town again with another group of friends. In my home town there is a foot bridge that spans a rather large and dangerous river. For kids 10-12 years old it is a formidable crossing. Especially in those days when the railings were not as safe looking as they are today. As we crossed the bridge a man approached from the other direction and he was clearly a little inebriated. We edged as far away from him as we could while we made to cross paths. He must have seen our fear and thought to play a little trick. When he was about 10 feet away he turned and bellowed at us: “Arrrrrr!” We all jumped I’m sure. I imagine that the earlier experience with the dog seized me. What ever the reason I stepped to the front of our little group and with all the power of my little frame and the most menacing look my coke bottle thick glasses, soft blond hair and freckles could produce I bellowed back at the man: “Arrrrrr!” The man laughed and laughed as he walked on.
I’m sure today that we were never in any real danger from the man but at the time I saw the lives of my friends pass before my eyes. I was terrified but I could not once again cower in fear. I have had many moments in the years since then where the memory of the shame brought on by using my friend as a shield has helped me to step forward or stand my ground or speak up. As I’ve learned to love, however, I find it is less and less the old shame that helps me but love. The saviour told his disciples:
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
John 15: 12-14
So I hope that those who read these posts know that they are written and given in love. Though it take all my courage to write (Really, maybe ten people will read this). I am grateful for Christ’s sacrifice. That it might not be in vain for my part I will endeavour to do whatsoever he commands. Even if it is to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost…”Matt 28: 19.
Some of you may have noticed that I finally got around to the topic of baptism. I think I’ll leave it for tomorrow’s post though. Funny how this post turned into one of those easy posts about love and courage and all that. I can only hope that should I ever encounter anything truly menacing I’ll have learned to love with enough depth and maturity to face it without fear.