Wednesday, February 23, 2011

An Invitation for All

John 7:37-38 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'

When my youngest daughter was a toddler she would walk up to babies whenever she spotted a stroller or carrier and try to talk to them. As a toddler her words and sentences weren’t always very clear but one phrase directed to either the baby or his/her mama was always the same “Baby baptized?”

See, we sit at the front of the church. We have ever since a pastor suggested it when our oldest was tiny. I was skeptical but he was right. The little ones can see better and actually are less restless up front. Sitting in the second pew, my kids get a great view of the baptisms. In my daughter’s mind every baby would be baptized, so as we visited the mall or library she would ask them.

My little one, not yet two years old, understood what Jesus was saying in the text above from the gospel according to John. Jesus’ invitation “If anyone thirsts…” is for all people. Theologians label this as objective justification, Christ died for all on the cross. Knowing about objective justification is important, it is the reason we can witness to anyone and everyone that Christ died for them.

The very next sentence starts with “Whoever believes….” This is subjective justification. We need to make no mistake that just because Christ died for all, it does not mean that all will be saved. Subjective justification is the receiving by faith that which Christ has done.

This passage in John occurs in Jerusalem, it is the Feast of Booths. Jesus went privately, he knew that they wanted to kill him but that the time had not yet come. Yet even knowing others felt violently about him, he went to the temple to teach and the crowds were amazed. This was radical talk, some would have thought God only loved the Jews. But here Christ is inviting all to believe in him.

An invitation for all… even the babies who are given the gift of faith when they are carried to the baptism font. Even the toddlers who have rivers of living water flowing out of them witnessing to God’s love for other babies.

Lord God, You desire that all come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Keep us in your baptismal grace, so that I and my family may be continually empowered to share Christ with those around us and those we come into contact with. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen

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