I baptized Brandon Sunday.
It was not something I was planning on. Brandon asked me about an hour before it was to occur. What an incredible honor to be asked to play a small role in a profound event in someone’s life.
Brandon is a new friend of mine. I met him a couple of months ago at Freedom Fellowship. He also started attending Highland Church and he attends the high school Bible class. So I get to see him quite a bit each week. Brandon is a good kid. He is kindhearted. He is friendly. He is inquisitive.
And he has Asperger’s Syndrome.
If you do not know Brandon, you may think he is awkward. You might even think he is rude. Because although he is friendly, he does not respond to social cues the way most people do. He may walk off in the middle of a conversation. He may change the subject of the conversation while you are in mid-sentence. He may blurt out answers to rhetorical questions while the speaker is teaching.
If you were to compare someone like me to someone like Brandon, it might appear that I have the capacity for much greater intellectuality than Brandon. It looks like I can process information quickly and abstractly. It seems I can understand nonverbal and verbal cues; I can read and retain facts and details well.
But Brandon has something that I desperately want: he loves God with all his heart. He is not distracted by all the things that pull my focus away.
Brandon is not overly concerned with what others think about him.
Brandon is always honest.
Brandon is not afraid to ask questions.
Brandon is not afraid to express joy and do things that make him happy.
Brandon is determined and will fight for what he wants; especially when it is something he deeply believes in.
I may know more about God than Brandon. But I do not know God as well as Brandon does.
“God will take care of the babies and the fools.”
There may be a good intent behind this statement. But there a couple of problems with it: first, it is not in any way biblical. It is a made up statement to reassure humans who cannot completely wrap their minds around God’s great mercy and love. Second, it actually comes from a too narrow view of baptism—thinking it is only about erasure of sin. There is much more to baptism than that.
Is baptism about salvation? Yes.
Is baptism about claiming the identity of Jesus follower? Yes.
Is baptism the pledge of a clear conscience to God? Yes.
Is baptism a ritual that unites us to a great cloud of witnesses? Yes.
There are some people who know a lot about baptism when they go into the water. But none of that is a requirement for baptism. Every biblical example of baptism we have is of people being convicted and desiring a closer relationship with God. Did instruction follow? Sure.
But the point of the act of baptism was a person responding to the call of God on their life.
Some of the most beautiful baptisms I have witnessed are those where the person putting Christ on in baptism has an understanding of their relationship with Jesus that I doubt I will ever have.
There is also another issue with that statement: It is ridiculously arrogant. It assumes that because we are (what has been deemed) normal we are somehow better than those who are deemed abnormal. It ends up being a way we can serve as gatekeepers to God’s Kingdom. “Yeah, you may not be as good as I am, but God will have pity on you so come on in.” In other words, it leaves us in charge of determining who is or is not a “fool.”
And that is a dangerous position to put ourselves in.
There are people who are different. And I don’t mean the surface differences of gender, ethnicity, and age.
There are people who have severe physical disabilities.
There are people who have severe mental health struggles.
There are people who are addicts.
There are people who cannot communicate the way most others in our society do.
And their faith is no less real or profound than anyone else’s. Their spirituality does not suffer because of those differences; at least, no more so than anyone else’s.
I guess what I am trying to say is this: instead of thinking that someone lacks the maturity and depth of your faith because they are more limited than you in some way, ask how they may know God more because of those perceived limitations.
Does God take care of babies and fools? Sure. (After all, he is taking care of you and me!) But God does not call them by those names.
God calls them sons and daughters.