After Easter–Now What? (Part 5)

James Hassell   -  

What does it mean to be a responsible Christian, especially in light of Christ’s victorious resurrection? This is the main question we’ve been discussing over the past few Mondays.

We’ve noticed thus far that responsibility is more than what a person “should” do. Sometimes responsibility can be relegated to the “shoulds” of life. When this happens, we may easily get bogged down in legalism. Our faith in Christ is reduced to a series of actions that ultimately succumb to a brand of drab ritualism. If Christ is obeyed only because of a few things that we should do, then we will ultimately not experience the true fullness of life that Christ offers. Jesus did not come for us to be hemmed in by duties alone (John 10:10).

We’ve also noticed that responsibility is not a nebulous thing in the great beyond of religiosity that we may acknowledge down the road someday. Our faith is not one of twiddling thumbs and contemplating how many angels can fit on the head of pin.

Responsibility therefore is personal! We respond in active faith in Jesus Christ, not because we have to, but because we actually want to! Jesus is at work around us, and we have both the privilege and the responsibility of participating in that work. Two key biblical texts that highlight some specific ways to engage in our Christian responsibility are Matthew 28:19-20 (The Great Commission) and Acts 1:8.

What have we learned thus far about our responsibility in Matthew 28:19-20? You might recall that Jesus has called us in the passage to “go and make disciples of all nations.” That is, as we go about our everyday tasks and obligations, we nurture relationships to focus on Christ and the difference that the gospel can and will make in us. Keep in mind that there is nothing coercive or manipulatory about this. We make disciples neither as one makes widgets on an assembly line nor as one forces another to comply with certain religious principles. Disciples are made through relationships, just like Jesus did it.

In the Great Commission, Jesus also called upon us to baptize new disciples in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In addition, he commanded us to teach these new disciples. But what exactly do these activities of baptism and teaching entail?

Simply stated, baptism is the act of immersing/being immersed in water for religious reasons. In the Bible, baptism has a significantly symbolic role. The act paints a beautiful picture of being buried with Christ (going under the water) and being raise as a brand new person because of Jesus’ resurrection and defeat of death (coming out of the water). Baptism is one of the identifying markers of a believer in Jesus.

In the Baptist tradition, we believe that baptism is not necessary for salvation, but it is a mandatory command of Christ. Baptism is to be a joyous celebration of one’s salvation, entered into with reverence and decisiveness. Accordingly, we don’t practice infant baptism because baptism is a very personal decision to be made by those willing to accept the responsibility thereof.

Teaching new disciples is quite a broad category! The sense of the word that Jesus used for “teaching” implies that we enroll in Jesus’ school of life but never fully graduate until we reunite with him in Heaven. Disciples therefore are to be lifelong learners. But not only that! We are to be lifelong teachers. As we learn more and more about the Lord, it is necessary for us to share our knowledge with others—not because we necessarily know better than others or “have it all figured out.” We impart knowledge about the Lord through teaching so that new Christians may avoid some of the potholes in the road of life that may have nearly taken us down! What a blessing to show others what it means to walk with Jesus!

In our next article, we will look more specifically into Jesus’ commands in Acts 1:8.