"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:15-16)
I wanted to write a little about my baptism. We went to a creek in Franklin on Sunday night to watch people be baptized. About 10 people had planned to be baptized that night, from a 70-something year old woman in a wheelchair (who was carried into the water in a wooden chair... what a cool thing to see! Not to mention she was terrified of water- talk about obedience!) to children. Baptisms are always really great to watch and they fill you with joy, and this one was especially powerful because instead of sitting in pews we were gathered around a creek in God's beautiful world (in beautiful weather, no less). With each baptism I got more and more antsy... I had been thinking about being baptized a lot recently, but hadn't felt a strong pull either way. I had a lot of pride and stubbornness standing in my way too. But that night I knew I was being nudged. I found myself thinking more and more that I had to be baptized. I started to worry that Larry (Nathan's dad as well as the pastor) wouldn't ask for more "volunteers" at the end, but also wasn't sure I wanted him to. But as soon as he started asking if there was anyone else who would come, I turned around and told Nathan (once I found my voice), "I think I have to go." He said, "so go." So I put my hand up and stepped into the water (taking Nathan with me and telling him to take his cell phone out of his pocket- haha). Larry was so excited that he almost cried. He and Nathan walked me out to where the water was deep, and together they dunked me under and lifted me up. I felt so relieved and happy (not to mention very wet), and everyone was so joyful. Nathan actually swept me off my feet and carried me to shore :) 17 people ended up being baptized that night- wow.
There are several reasons I felt it was important to be baptized, so let me *try to* explain a few.
1) Jesus tells us to be baptized (Mark 16:16, above). I have heard baptism called "the first act of obedience" for new believers. I am not a new believer, which is actually one of the things that kept me from being baptized sooner. I had to get over a lot of pride and stubbornness (much to do with worrying about what other people might think) to go ahead with it. I don't necessarily believe that those who believe but aren't baptized aren't saved... I fully believe that if I would have died before Sunday I would be in heaven. But if being baptized is an act of obedience to God, which I believe it is, it follows that choosing to not be baptized is an act of disobedience.
2) Jesus is our example. Jesus was the only sinless man... as we should strive to be without sin, we should strive to be like Jesus. Even Jesus, who didn't need to be baptized for its usual purpose of repentance, was baptized to "fulfill all righteousness" (Matt 3:15). I'm honestly not sure what that means, but I think it had to do with fulfilling God's plan; accepting his coming death, burial, and resurrection; and humbling himself.
3) Baptism is a public proclamation of belief. I know what I believe... but does everyone else? No. People only know as much as we reveal to them. Baptism shouts to the world that I am a follower of Christ, my savior. Many of the people who witnessed my baptism were members of Hillcrest church, but there were also many strangers present. Not only did I affirm my beliefs to people I know who probably assumed that I'm a Christian, but to those who don't know me (and who possibly don't know the Lord... which is not to say that everyone at church is a Christian, because that is not the case).
4) Baptism is a symbol of sharing in Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. We are called to die to our sin and rise as children of God. The act of baptism symbolizes the death (falling down into the water), burial (being under water), and resurrection (coming up out of the water). This is a powerful symbolic act!
5) I felt led to. When you feel like God wants you to do something you better do it! :)
What a great experience. I definitely feel like I made the right decision. The fact that I felt so much unrest and uncertainty about not being baptized assures me that being baptized was God's will for me. I'm also so thankful that my husband and my father in law were the ones to baptize me- they are two people who are "spiritual leaders" in my life.
By the way, I know someone took some pictures, so I hope to get those soon :)