I got baptized yesterday! It was really great, and I learned a lot from it. I also got a lot of strange responses for my decision. A lot of people thought it was weird that it took me so long of walking with Jesus to get dunked. I can see why someone might think that, so let me do some explaining.
My brother and I got baptized when I was nine and he was five. We stood on the stage in front of the church our mom brought us to, and we were told to answer yes to the following questions: do you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Do you want to follow Him? The congregation was asked if they would help out, if they would assist my parents in teaching us how to be a Christian. A booming "we will" was their response. The pastor proceeded to sprinkle our heads with water, there was some giggling involved, and then we got to sit back down with our parents (with our complimentary hand towel, of course). In many churches, baptism is a choice made by parents for a child. Instead of choosing to raise their child to love and follow Jesus, for some reason baptism is implemented as an attempted means of salvation. I feel that this is a dangerous approach. If you choose to look at baptism with this viewpoint, it is too easy to then leave the rest of your child's "spiritual upbringing" to chance, assuming that they will happen to dedicate their life to following Christ. There wasn't much about the following years that taught me to walk with Jesus. Sure, I learned a couple things about the Bible, and I made a few friends. But I did not head off to college with any sort of idea of what it meant to be a disciple of Christ. I had no idea how to maintain a relationship with Him.
The example we see in the Bible of baptism is a public proclamation of a believer's faith in Christ (Matthew 29:19-20; Acts 2:37-38, 41-42; Acts 9:18, Acts 16:14-15). I am positive that at the time of my first baptism that I was not saved, I had not accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Baptism is also seen to be an act of obedience to Christ (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 2:37-38). It is very clear that baptism is a response of obedience after placing one's faith in the saving power of Christ's work on the cross.
How this applies to me here and now, after a couple years of sitting under good Bible teaching and by the grace of God having had a lot of people help me learn what it means to follow Christ:
I honestly had never even thought to get baptized. The past couple years, a number of my friends have chosen to, and I have been so blessed to able to witness that! But for some reason, I never considered it for myself. I never put much thought into the theology behind the baptism that I had experienced as a kid, and did not take the time to consider this commandment in my own walk with Jesus. A couple months ago, the thought came up in my mind while I was at a baptism that maybe when I was baptized the first time it didn't quite count. But I chose to just not think about it. It seemed silly, I've been walking with Christ for a couple years now, isn't it a little late for that? This past week, as I knew that baptisms were coming up again, the thought came up again. The Lord really laid it on my heart that this was something that I needed to do. That it was time to be obedient in this area. I was reading in Colossians and I knew in my heart that Christ was calling me to get baptized.
... having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. Colossians 2:12
I realized that I couldn't quite relate to that. I realized that in order to know Christ fully and to continue to understand His purpose for redeeming me, that I needed to obey Him. I am starting to understand that I don't know much about obedience to Christ, nor am I very good at it. I desire to truly allow Him to reign in my heart, and that means total submission on my end. Obeying Christ is about Him and Him alone. Its not about the opinions or convictions of others, its not about appearance, its not about selfish gain or checklists. Obeying Christ involves recognizing the sacrifice that He made for us on the cross. Obeying Christ sees that GOD SENT His only begotten Son. Obeying Christ finds true joy and satisfaction in the high calling that is being a follower of Jesus, and finding freedom in total abandon of my own will.
I want my life to be marked by obedience to Jesus, whether that means I let Wesley and Ian dunk me in a pool, or I choose to open my mouth and tell someone about the love of Christ and His ability to save, or I allow God to take my thoughts, emotions, will as His own, and for His power to be what makes anything in my life glorifying to Him.
Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. Colossians 2:6-7
It was so awesome to witness others proclaim their faith in Christ as well! There were five other people that got baptized on Sunday, and I have been able to watch their walks with Christ each develop differently. Some I knew better than others, but it was amazing to be a part of such a wonderful day of celebration. It was really humbling to see their obedience to Christ as they are so fresh in their walks with Him. I am so grateful to be able to share that day with them and cannot wait to see what the Lord has planned for each one of them!!