“Love is watching someone die, so who’s gonna watch you die?”
– Death Cab for Cutie, ‘What Sara Said?’
At Rivendell this past Sunday, we juxtaposed the Great Commission text with that of the Greatest Commandment that Jesus articulates in Matthew 22. Part of our discussion led to the issue of baptism and its importance to discipleship. Steve, Rivendell co-pastor, asked the question of how the church is to be different from the religious consumers that seem so prominant in the American church. I contributed by saying that somehow consumerism, in its secular and religious forms respectively, always seeks to enhance the individual self and fill the void that one sees in their own life. The church should be the alternative and somehow be a place that embodies the practice of “Come here and die”. What does this death mean? I think that is means that our agendas and dreams, what we thought made our lives true, must change to that of Christ’s. Mark Riddle said that participating in the kingdom of God was practicing God’s dreams for the world. I believe this is where baptism has its most vital role.
What if our message was really to “take up your cross and follow Christ”, essentially, die to your own agenda and follow God’s. Then baptism, the induction of the believer to the believing community, would thus be to let others participate in your funeral. It would be letting other people visually and physically participate in your death and realize that this death will lead to a wedding, a union with Christ and his bride. How odd is that? So maybe love is watching someone die, watching someone symbolically state that this life is futile without God in the way of Jesus. Maybe the church really loves people when it states that all must come before God and partipate in the imitation of the death of God’ s son and that only in his death and resurrection we find life. Death leads to life, not the other way around. Once again, Jesus turns all of our logic on its head.