I remember it like it was yesterday. The birds were chirping, the sun was shining, and you could smell the fresh cut grass in the air. We arrived at church early that day. Why? Because I was getting baptized. I was about a year old, and I remember the water being fresh and cold.
Okay, okay, I obviously don't remember that happening. I was an infant when I was baptized, and I actually don't remember any part of it. If you read my last blog post (which you can find here), I talked a lot about my family dynamics and how I wasn't really raised in a Christian home. Well, my Grandma was Lutheran, so one thing led to another when I was born.
Many questions about baptism hit me in high school.
I didn't have any choice in the decision of my baptism as an infant, but someone wanted it to be part of my story. I wouldn't even broach the subject of baptism until I was in high school. Our youth group was doing baptisms in a hot tub, which, I'll be honest, sounded pretty cool. That is until we learned the heating system was broken, and kids were getting into a freezing cold hot tub in the middle of February!
I remember having a lot of questions after seeing those cold baptisms that day.
By high school, I had decided to commit my life to Jesus. So, did I need to get re-baptized? If getting baptized again wasn't necessary, was there any benefit to doing it again? Would it mitigate the importance of my first baptism, or would I be disrespecting the original event?
The questions stayed with me.
You might read some of those questions and think I'm crazy, but they were all genuine. Honestly, they followed me for years, and I continued to wonder what significance there really would be in going through another baptism.
A few years later, my wife and I found ourselves attending Berean. Church membership was very important to us because we wanted to be somewhere where we could impact the community. Well, to become a member of Berean, you need to be baptized by immersion. For a while, this was a deal breaker for me.
I spent most of my spiritual life defending that I did not need to experience another baptism because I had already been baptized as an infant. That this "experience" was not necessary to go through again. That I had already accepted Jesus into my life, and this act would not bring me closer to him.
My background and experiences caused confusion.
I attended a university that was part of the Assembly of God branch of Christianity. One of the things that this branch of Christianity practices and strongly encourages is participation in speaking in tongues. While attending that university, I had many friends tell me that I needed to speak in tongues to be closer to Jesus. That it was a secret language that God and I would share. That I needed to pray for the gift of tongues and receive it from God to get closer to him. Well, I tried once or twice but it just wasn't for me.
In all my research and questioning, I learned that you don't need to speak in tongues to be closer to Jesus. In fact, the only thing that will bring me closer to him is spending regular time in God's Word and prayer. And this prayer could be done in any tongue, including English (which is great cause it's all I know!).
Following those years in school, my wife and I did some church hopping, which led to even more confusion. We experienced churches that would say, "If you just do this, or if you can just do that, those things will bring you closer to Jesus." All the while I kept wondering, "How do those things bring me any closer to God than just spending time in his Word?" The responses I would get made it sound like just "magic," but nobody could actually explain it to me.
The confusion was hindering me from getting baptized.
You can see now why I was questioning my next steps at Berean. My wife and I wanted to be members, but baptism was standing in our way. In fact, everything I just told you was standing in my way. All I could think of was, "WHY? WHAT'S THE POINT? WILL IT REALLY BRING ME CLOSER TO JESUS?"
I wrestled with those questions on my own for a while, and I wrestled with them with a couple of different pastors. Still, I wasn't sure that I wanted to pursue membership if it meant I had to be re-baptized.
Then, God used someone to speak into my life.
Finally, someone in my life said, 'Lucas, baptism is not just for you. It's a public declaration of your faith and something encouraging to the entire body of Christ. I understand that you were baptized as a child, but by being baptized as an adult, you could really encourage somebody to take the next step in their own faith.'
Yes, I know that answer was right in front of me the whole time, but no one had ever presented it to me in that way. It was always a vague answer such as, "This is the next step in your faith journey." That wasn't a satisfying answer for me. I didn't want to do something just because someone told me I had to or because it would "bring me closer to Jesus." Tell me why/how it does that; then I can buy into it!
Baptism is not about us. It's about sharing what God has done.
Baptism was my opportunity in front of a body of people to let them know that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and that I choose to follow him. It wasn't about me; not at all. My defensive posture, though, had taken a while to see that. This was about giving glory to God. I am his. It was my opportunity to share that with people. To reflect his glory to the world through baptism. It was an opportunity to celebrate what God had done in my life and encourage others to do the same.
What's standing in your way?
If you were baptized as an infant, I understand your hesitations and struggles. Maybe you've been asking some of those same questions I did. Keep asking them. And if you're unsure who to ask? You can talk to me! After taking the step to get baptized, I would not trade that day for anything. Baptism has expanded my story. It's another piece of my story that God can use and has used for his glory. Since being baptized a little over a year ago, I've had multiple opportunities to share about my choice with others.
Did it bring me closer to Jesus? I would say yes, it did, but it wasn't like I came up out of that water a radically different person. No, it brought me closer to Jesus because he's given me more opportunities to talk about him.
So, my question to you then becomes, "What's standing in your way?"
It's all for his glory, always.
Interested in getting baptized at Berean?
- Adults start the baptism process by attending First Connection which happens on the first Sunday of every month. You'll learn more about what we believe at Berean and why we think being connected in areas such as membership, serving, giving, and growing in your faith is important. You'll also have the opportunity to share a little of your story and hear some of Berean's story. Click here to register for First Connection today.
- Kids and Students start the baptism process by registering here. We will help parents lead their children through a discussion on the gospel and help kids write out their testimony of coming to faith in Jesus. Together you will meet with a pastor to affirm this step and ask any questions. Click here to start the process today.