I am not a failure, but I realized the other day I have failed miserably in one particular area of my life as a Christian.
Several hundred times over the years, though I have no idea of the exact count, I have stood with other Christians and gladly said these words:
“With God’s help we will so order our lives after the example of Christ, that [this child], surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.”
More recently the words have been:
“We give thanks for all that God has already given you and we welcome you in Christian love
As members together with you in the body of Christ and in this congregation of The United Methodist Church,
we renews our covenant
faithfully to participate in the ministries of the church
by our prayers, our presence,
our gifts, our service,
that in everything God may be glorified
through Jesus Christ.”
Yes, that’s right. I have said these words many times. Whenever someone was baptized at a worship service I attended, or when I was the one doing the baptizing, we included these words.
United Methodists include statements like the above not only because we baptize infants and others still too young to speak for themselves. We pledge ourselves to one another also because we believe that following Jesus is best done in the company of others who want to live the same way.
I cannot begin to name all the people whose baptisms I have been present for, yet in each and every case I promised, out loud before God and everybody, to support, encourage, and help them to live this thing we call the Christian life.
I have failed.
Perhaps if I live today as though everyone I come in contact with could be one of these, I can begin to make up for my failure.