You know when I said I’d see you again in October? Yeah, this is kind of what I meant.
This past Sunday at church, I did the whole ‘baptism’ thing. That is; I took the step of committing myself to God for all eternity, which I already had done of course, but not publicly, in a position where everyone could see and rejoice at another person joining them in paradise. It was also the second event this year (the one that started in September, as in, not the real year but the only one that matters to students and those who still wish they were students) after which I thought ‘now would be a really good time to write another blog entry’. The first of those two events was my first F.P. training block. You probably have no idea what that means because I didn’t write a blog entry about it. Opportunity missed? Maybe not, but I’m going to hold off for the next F.P. training block (between the 30th October – 1st November) to go into it properly. This gives some of my F.P. buddies a chance to do something that will earn them a very rare mention by name – or at least by church, or at the very least, reference number – in the next post. Don’t all jump at once, guys.
Baptism: more than just a lukewarm dribble over your forehead. That’s what you learn at New Frontiers (the group of churches to which Solent, my particular arm/ leg, belongs). A perfectly understandable stance, as it lines up with what the New Testament says about baptism also; Acts 8: 38 talks about going “down into the water” to be baptised rather than bringing a tiny sprinkle of it up to you.
I am referring, of course, to when little infants are ‘christened’ or ‘baptised’ or whatever other cool name you can come up with for something that is essentially nothing more than a nice gesture and reason for everyone to celebrate a new birth. Which certainly isn’t a bad thing, of course, on the contrary, but it doesn’t exactly guarantee them a safe passage through life, straight into Heaven despite the sins they’ll commit like everyone else that has ever lived.
No, baptism for a christian only happens once you are a christian and can understand fully what a relationship with God means – verse 37 of the aforementioned chapter in Acts is clear that one should only be baptised if “thou believest with all thine heart.” For me, this presented questions, not geared towards anyone but myself. Questions that I had to ask, and wait to be answered.
Because I have ‘believest’ with all mine heart, and have done for quite a while. My baptism on Sunday (for me at least; I can’t truly speak for others, who take from it what they wish as we all do) was not a grand declaration that I am a christian and am aware of Christ’s sacrifice for me. I have publicly declared these things many times in the past. For me it was about the next step; declaring that not only am I a christian and well aware of Christ’s sacrifice for me, but I am also ready to declare that knowing and believing it is not enough; I now want to live for God and not for myself. Follow His will, lean not on my own understanding, and forget about those selfish desires that hook on to the promises that my life is going to be anything great. This, I realise now, is the point in my christian maturity that I was waiting for, the point that God and I both wanted me to reach before I felt it was right to make that step – a step that should not be taken lightly, nor should it be solely your decision. It is a decision that you and God make together. You are declaring that not only are you committing to your relationship with God, but you are doing so for better or worse, just as you would do in marriage, so that later, when the euphoria wears off and your life gets tough again, you won’t suddenly turn on God and feel scorned because He’s not focusing solely on your every need (bearing in mind that your concept of ‘need’ is likely very warped). It is not God’s intention to make your life on this Earth good. He has a plan that is far greater than our own; it’s called Jesus, and it’s long term.
That was the sort of thing I wanted to say when I stood up in front of church on Sunday to give a short testimony about my life leading up to that point. Unfortunately it didn’t quite come out like that (they rarely do) and I’m forced to wish everyone who was there will read this, as well – or ‘instead’, if it was up to me. But then again, if it was up to me, I’m not sure we all would have marched down to the seafront after the service, to see me jumping into the water on a freezing cold day in the middle of October, before being dunked under the surface for a few seconds. Yet it was brilliant any way. Shows how much we know about what’s ‘good’ for us, eh?