Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Immersed In Questions
I came to Christ as a very young child in my Grandma's old baptist church. (prayed the prayer every week because it was so important to me that I have this best friend Jesus that loved me and was all powerful) One can say that a child's conversion isn't true but it meant something to me; I can recall praying in bed with the covers tight around me, scarcely breathing in fear or dread as I listened to my parents fight in the other room. The comfort I felt that I could pray to my best friend Jesus that could make everything better.
I decided to be baptized because it was the "next step" and I attended the class as a 7 year old and knew what I was doing. Knew what it meant, could answer all the questions. It's funny now because last week I was listening to some friends (perhaps a Catholic background?) and their child wanted to get baptized but the baptism was a week away so she wasn't allowed to; why? Because that wasn't enough time to get a party ready! Baptism is a big deal and everyone has a party after it. My brother and I did not get a party but we did go out to lunch with family. I wonder if others view this as important enough to have a party. Perhaps I have a wrong view of baptism, or just clueless parents. Still, my mom was proud. My brother and I were baptized (by immersion, of course!) in that little church on Mother's Day. My mom thought it was a perfect Mother's day.
I think it's interesting; we are exhorted to have the "faith of a child" but when children profess faith or wish to make big decisions we seem to deem they don't know what they are doing.
Of course, faith is a journey, not a one time decision or baptism so regardless of age, be it a child or adult, the more one spends with Jesus and matures the more their faith deepens, understanding expands and love for God grows. If one were to wait until they fully understood the magnitude of God's love, grace and what He desires for us, would we ever be baptized? Plus, I've always found it interesting that in the Bible people believed, repented and were baptized. No quiz. No class. No waiting until he knew exactly what that meant or I've already shared in a previous post my thoughts and questions of reading Acts 16. The jailer believed and was baptized... at once! (this confuses me, as I grew up thinking baptism was a public profession of faith.... and this, the jailer's (and his entire household) conversion and baptism was done seemingly at night, so who else was there to make it a public profession of faith?)
Okay; I know this is a tangent but it does perplex me that baptism today is different than it was in Biblical times. It is now a party or a quiz or a "seal" that you are saved when I never thought it was a condition of salvation.
Is it a condition of salvation?
I believe that baptism is "transferable" among denominations. I don't think that because I was baptized in a Baptist church I have to do it again..... and yet....it's true that I know more now and my relationship with God is quite different than it was when I was 7. I can't say my relationship is more "meaningful" now than when I was 7 or 10, as it's relative. In fact, if anything my faith was perhaps more vibrant then because my family was struggling with my brother's cancer and, just like when I was a child, praying and talking to God when my parents fought at night, I spent many, many nights and days pouring out my heart and all it's sorrows, joys, jealousies, and frustrations to Him. As I write this out, the skeptic part of me is melting away and I can see that I needed God. I don't know how this difficult time would have been without my Church community and Jesus that loved me unconditionally.
Is baptism more than a public profession of faith? Is it necessary to be a "true" Christian, or is it an act of obedience? Why is it that when someone comes to Christ today we don't encourage them to be baptized but wait until they "know" more or have "proven" themselves?Is the Holy Spirit in us present before we are baptized? Or is that a necessary component? (which doesn't seem to make sense)
I am a person that does question much. Though it seems I had much faith as a child and young adult, I have become quite a (believing) skeptic since. Perhaps it's cynicism. But I come to a place now where I want more than I have, question if what I ever had was valid, and if I'm missing some important piece that I need to be a "real" Christian.
So what do you think about baptism? Care to answer some of my questions? I know there's a lot! Today it's just a random thought day. Why do you think Baptism is so important in today's church and in our lives?