I enjoyed mine the first time, but the second go round was traumatic.
Dad happened to be a Methodist minister when I received Christ as my Savior. In their tradition, sprinkling was the form of baptism used. Since I had almost drowned recently in a friend’s swimming pool, sprinkling was perfectly okay with me. A little water on the head wouldn’t cause a panic.
Fast forward six years. Dad switched back to his roots—Baptist. They required baptism by immersion. The fact that I’d already been baptized didn’t matter. Dunking was the only correct way. Since I had no choice, the date was set. I reminded dear old dad how afraid I was of water: “Make it quick.” And he did. In fact, the bangs of my hair didn’t make the baptism. As soon as my face creased the water, he raised me back up.
Only later in life did I come to understand what Paul taught about baptism. The act involved more than just getting wet—in whatever form a particular church wet a person. Baptism meant I was somehow joined to Christ—even into His death. And the effects of it should last longer than the time it took to perform the act itself.
Regardless of the mode used, baptism symbolizes to me and others that I’ve made a decision to connect with Christ. He’s forgiven my sins, and I’ve promised to follow His commands. Going under the water—by whatever means, demonstrates I’ve decided to die to the old way of living—living according to the dictates of the flesh or old sin nature.
But the one time act should have life-altering effects. What the ceremony symbolizes transforms my life from that point forward. When we’re baptized into Jesus’ death, we become partakers in what His death accomplished—the forgiveness of sins. As we grow in Christ, sinning should be the abnormal rather than the normal. By partaking of spiritual disciplines and allowing Christ to teach us what being a disciple of His actually entails, we learn to live above sinful practices. While sinless perfection isn’t possible, sinning less as we grow in Christ is.
Grace is not a license to sin, but the freedom to live above the enslaving effects of sin.
Prayer: Father, guide our life journey toward godliness rather than sinfulness.
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