Lily Liu’s Baptism
This is a difficult situation for Lily, for Pastor Smith, and also Lily’s family. If we can try to understand where the family is coming from in regards to their daughter’s conversion then I think we can approach this the correct way. If this were a real life scenario, which I’m most certain happens very often, then I believe that this missionary “Smith” would have a great love for these people and a great desire to not only bring the good news of Christ to Lily, but also her family, community, and even the nation of Taiwan, and a great desire to see them walking in the kingdom of God. At times though, I know that some of us can be so desperate for people to fall in love with Christ, that we’re willing to perhaps bend or distort what it means to be a follower of Christ, so that “Christianity” can seem more appealing.
Chapter 3, pg. 45 speaks about baptism as “The basic thrust to initiate people into the Christian faith.” And it states that Matthew’s intentions, when documenting Jesus’ Great Commission, were to “ground the need for baptism as the appropriate Christian ritual that embodies repentance from sin and entrance into allegiance to Christ.”
The Great Commission given by Jesus was to, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
I don’t think that baptism is one of those things that some might say are “cultural”, or not really all that important or necessary for christians in Taiwan. I think that it pertains to every culture and every nation, especially since Matthew states that Jesus specifically commands to make disciples of “all nations” and baptize “them”.
But, just as Pastor Smith is in Taiwan for Lily, he is also there for Lily’s family. There seems to be a legitimate fear that Lily’s family is experiencing in regards to offending their ancestors, and it looks to me that their entire life is almost based around this notion that their ancestors are easily offended. And it also seems that damage and harm can be done to the family with the offense of their ancestors! I would do all that I could to get the message across to the family and communities that you no longer need to be afraid or to walk in fear. That when you give your life over to the teaching of Christ and the acceptance that he has died for your sins, then you no longer have to fear offending your ancestors or any harm that they may attempt to bring you. When you are apart of the Kingdom of God, you serve Yahweh who is much stronger than the spiritual attacks of Buddhism.
There is also a difference between “not understanding” the power and truth of Christ and “refusing and rejecting” it. Being a Christian, especially in non-Christian countries, can often split apart families. This is unwanted but very common. After I’ve done all that I could to bring the families on board, and Lily’s family still refusing it, I believe that I would support Lily through all of it regardless. As her pastor I would aid her and help her in anyway I could, I would hold her hand through all of it. I would also continue to fight for good relationships with her family and do what I could to serve them and love them. They are loved by the Lord, just as Lily is, and they were died for as well. The story isn’t over with Lily’s family and she very well may play a role in bringing salvation to her household.