When my daughter began to ask about baptism about a year ago at age 6, I wanted her to make the decision based on knowledge and not just out of curiosity. I wanted her to know what making a step to follow Christ was for, and not just what it saved us against.
We had a series of small conversations. I asked her questions about what she was learning in Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. Turns out she pretty much had the basics down of what baptism meant.
As an adult, I still struggle with faith, doubt and theology, so I didn’t expect a 7 year old to have a better grasp on it than I do. But that’s what’s beautiful about the faith of a child. They take God at His Word. Their hearts are tender to hearing the still, small voice of a Savior. And I, for one, will do my best to step out of the way and not mess that up.
Still, I wanted to give my daughter something substantial that would set the tone for the next phase of her walk with Christ, and a letter seemed appropriate, since we sometimes write notes to each other in a journal. My husband read it and agreed, so I placed it on the kitchen table in a special envelope for her to find the Friday before she was baptized.
I’m overjoyed that you’re getting baptized this weekend. You’ve repented and accepted Jesus as your savior and now you’re taking the next step of baptism, which washes away your sins.
You know how we read in the Bible about Jesus and the very first church that ever was? This is how it started: with baptism—just like you’re going to do this weekend!
In the Bible in Acts chapter two, the first people who made a church for Jesus started by getting baptized in Jesus’ name! It’s now nearly 2,000 years later, and people are added to church the same way. Here’s the scripture:
“Peter replied, ‘Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church–about three thousand in all.” Acts 2:38, 41
The act of baptism is symbolic. There’s nothing physically that changes when you go in and out the water. But it symbolizes (represents) that your sins are being washed away forever. There’s nothing that can ever separate you from the love Jesus has for you.
As I’ve told you before, there’s nothing you could ever do that could make me love you less. It’s the same with Jesus. Jesus is God. He created you. He gave you to Mommy and Daddy as a gift. He has a purpose for your life. You will do great things in your life that help other people, and you will shine like a light. You already do.
You are a Christian. Mommy and Daddy are Christians. It’s just a term to describe our religion and our faith in God and it means “follower of Christ.” It means we try to follow Jesus Christ’s example of how to act and treat people. It also means that we believe He is God. We follow him because God created us “to be in relationship” with Him. “To be in relationship with” means like you and I are mother and daughter. You and Ellie are friends. These are examples of relationships and you treat people certain ways that you’re in relationship with (kindness, respect).
As we’ve talked about before, the most important goal of being a Christian is found in the Bible in Matthew chapter 22: “Love the Lord your God will all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
As you grow up, you will want to learn how to pray every day to Jesus and talk to Him just like you talk to your friends or to your parents. You’ll want to learn scriptures in the Bible (like the ones I put in your lunch box) because they help you know how to live a better life and how to please God.
If you ever have questions about anything, you can always ask Mommy and Daddy. If we don’t know the answer, we will help you pray about them or help you find answers.
I love you more than the world. You’ve made our lives so incredibly special, because you are so incredibly special.
She spent quite a bit of time reading it. I asked her if she understood, and if she had any questions.
She wrapped her arms around my neck, climbed up in my lap and thanked me for writing it. I held her until she was ready to get down. She was ready to be baptized and so happy about it.
Two days later she was baptized by her great-uncle in the same church I was baptized in by my grandfather (his father) when I was 7. Before she was baptized, her 89-year-old great-grandmother laid hands on her and prayed a blessing. It was a ceremony full of wonder and heritage, and one that’s renewed my faith to be more childlike as well.
I don’t know if she’ll reference the letter from time to time. I hope she does. But I hope even more that she references the lives and faith of those around her who have faithfully served The Lord for many years. After all, our lives are the best letter we can ever write to our kids.
Editor’s Note: The team at What’s in the Bible? acknowledges that there are many different traditions when it comes to Christian baptism. The views of the author do not necessarily reflect the views of Jellyfish Labs or What’s in the Bible?.
Cara Davis is a content consultant and co-founder of the soon-to-launch church’d.com. The former editorial director for Relevant Media Group, her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post and CNN, and she’s been quoted in USA Today and The New York Times. She lives with her husband and two girls in East Nashville where she has co-founded a nonprofit called Community PTO to support the success of local community schools.