Sunday, October 09, 2005

Baptism

There is a tremendous amount of things that I do not know about God– and even some things which “I know” that may not be correct. How ridiculous is it for a Christian to think all of his/her beliefs about God are perfect? The truth is, all of us unknowingly carry false or incomplete beliefs. Lord help me to go forward in confidence with what I do know, while remaining flexible and humble enough to be wrong, be taught and be changed.

I was baptized as an infant – with the commitment from my family to “raise me up in the Lord.” A commitment which, I believe, was honored by my extended family over the years. It wasn’t until I was 17 years old that I accepted Jesus as my savior – and several years after that when my commitment became real – or, I started walking with the Lord. At that time, I made a commitment to walk as Jesus did (1 John 2:6).

For about two years I really wrestled with baptism. What is it? What does it do? Why? What does the water do? It seemed like religion to me. I searched the scripture and saw the baptism of the Spirit, a baptism I had received, as the necessary reality that has brought me to the intimacy I enjoy with Jesus. Why, with the Holy Spirit and a relationship with Jesus, did I need the water? Additionally, many ministers and pastors I spoke with agreed that I had in fact been baptized and another dunking wasn’t necessary. After all, I didn’t want to do anything for religion’s sake – only for Christ’s sake. Besides, so many false beliefs circle around this subject, such as being associated with salvation or the false idea that water “washes sins off,” that I didn’t even want to touch it.

But baptism again rose as a subject this weekend (several years later), when it was mentioned at a retreat– in passing, really – but it stirred something that made me want to search. I believed I was right, but I also didn’t want to ever close the door on the Truth. I went to the scriptures and read about Jesus’ baptism in Mathew 3. What caught my heart was when John tried to deter him, Jesus said that it must be done in order to “fulfill all righteousness.” Not to be saved, not to receive the Holy Spirit, but to fulfill all righteousness.

My friend also pointed to a lot of scripture concerning baptism, scripture I was very familiar with but didn’t lead me to believe that my baptism needed to be redone. We did, however, pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal His will. He (the Spirit) led me to an intimate exchange with God that I can’t articulate really, but in that I asked God to show me why I should be baptized. I just didn’t want to do it because of church tradition or religion and I certainly refused to accept that I was somehow “incomplete” without baptism. The Blood made me complete.

During a time of meditation, I walked around the outside of the room reflecting on some stations that called us to contemplate on who Jesus is… at the last station, there was a pair of sandals with the verse “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:6. At that, the picture of Christ’s baptism flashed in my mind and, almost at once, I understood that baptism was simply a part of fulfilling my commitment to “walk as Jesus did.” To fulfill all righteousness, as Jesus said.

For this reason, I was baptized as a believer this morning in the swimming pool at the Salvation Army retreat center near Midlothian, Texas. Praise Jesus. I believe there is some aspect of baptism I still do not understand – specifically the role it plays in “dying to myself,” my greatest desire. However, I do believe God will bless obedience and submissiveness to His will. Amen.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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1:50 PM  
Blogger Clay said...

praise God.

Wish I could have been there in support.

I'd love to talk to you more about it...in person

9:33 PM  
Blogger Shelly said...

Wow...wish I had been there too. I have grappled with the same things and have come to understand as you have that my heart belongs to Jesus and doing what He wants, when He wants, is all that matters. I abhor tradition for tradition's sake but love this God of mercy and grace, so personal in the way He draws me to Him. You know? ME to HIM, as though I were His only child.
So proud and thankful to have been added to your extended fam.
s

4:03 AM  

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