My baptismal awakening

Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.(Romans 6:3-4)

This coming Sunday, we will be baptizing four people at NewLife at Mill Woods Park after the worship service. Baptism is the sign of the new covenant, which is a fancy way of saying that the act of baptism points like a sign to the gospel of Jesus. As the individual goes under the water and then is brought back out, they are identifying with the death and resurrection of Jesus, proclaiming that they have died to their old self and have been raised to new life with Christ, as the water symbolically washes away their sins. While many churches baptize infants into the community of faith, our understanding of the Bible is that because baptism is a sign of the new covenant, it is something that should be entered into when an individual is old enough to profess faith in Jesus.

I was baptized when I was 21 years old. Although I had been baptized as an infant, I came to faith in Jesus as an 18-year-old freshman at UConn. At the end of my junior year, I attended a weeklong retreat called Chapter Camp with InterVarsity, the Christian group I belonged to at UConn. They offered an opportunity to be baptized, and I decided to do it.

My baptism day ended up being one of the more spiritually meaningful days of my young life. In the spring of my junior year, the leader of InterVarsity had challenged me to ask God to reveal to me the depth of my sin. It was a great challenge; up to that point, I believed that God had saved me, but I didn’t really know what He had saved me from. I had always been a pretty good person in my eyes, and so I really didn’t get the whole “sinner” part very much. So I began to ask God regularly to reveal the depth of my sin, and started to journal my thoughts.

On the day of my baptism, I was praying with some other friends in a circle, and as it got closer to being my turn, I started to formulate my prayer. Right before it was my turn, the person next to me “stole my prayer,” for lack of better words. I got angry, and suddenly it was as if a veil was lifted. I saw clearly my pride and desire to be worshiped, and how even in my holiest of moments, like prayer and worship, I was full of self-centeredness. I began to weep in that prayer circle as I saw myself more clearly and came to better understand that I was a sinner that Jesus had loved enough to die for.

I don’t know whether or not there was a connection between my desire to be baptized and my experience of having the veil lifted on that day. But I do know that Jesus commands his disciples to be baptized (Matthew 28:19), and that even he submitted himself to baptism at the start of his public ministry, although he was without sin (Matthew 3:13). If you have not been baptized, I encourage you to reach out so that you can learn more about this important decision.

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