Several months ago, we were joined in our weekly Bible study by a young woman who has had a rough go of it. After about twenty minutes of studying our passage in Luke together, she opened up about the hardships she has been through. She shared how she had been sinned against, how her friends continued to be a bad influence, and how no matter what she tried it always seems like she keeps getting knocked back down.
She continued sharing about her struggles in growing closer to God. I started to sense a deep burden on her; that something about the idea of growing in faith was oppressive and crushing. It all became clear when she said, “I want to be baptized, but I know I need to clean my life up first so that I don’t let God down.”
As if my heart wasn’t already broken enough by her situation, a deep ache set in for me when I realized that this young woman’s entire concept of the Christian faith, beginning with baptism, was one of burden, guilt, and being crushed by her own failures. After several moments of other group members attempting to minister to this young woman, one member of our group turned to me and said:
“Pastor, what does baptism mean anyway?”
I was so glad she asked.