Sunday, May 6, 2012

Dead, Buried, But Living Again!

We had baptisms in our services this morning at church.  You might say, "so what.  That happens all the time at church."  Well, not so much in United Methodist Churches; at least none of them I've ever attended - and I've been in the United Methodist Church almost all of my life.  We seldom had baptisms and when we did, the people were sprinkled.

Also, I don't know if I just wasn't listening but I never heard an explanation of what it meant to be baptized.  I, personally, was baptized when I attended a Southern Baptist Church for a short time in my late 20's.  Even then, I didn't fully understand the meaning of baptism.

As I've said many times on this blog, my true conversion to being a Christ follower happened about 12 years or so ago even though I asked Christ into my life when I was in the 7th grade.   What happened at that time, I believe, was when Christ began revealing Himself to me.  I continued in church, youth group, revivals, etc., throughout my school years.  During my early 20's, I again experienced growth in my Christian faith, but in my 30's until about age 42, I purely walked away from God and lived according to my own desires - I won't say without any thoughts about God, because that is not true.  I was tortured with thoughts about my sin and the fact that I was not living according to God's plan for my life. 

Thank God, He did not throw me out with the bathwater, but He decided to get me back in the fold and on the path by causing major life changes for me - four huge ones all in the space of about three years -  and putting me in a place where I had to fall on my face and ask Him to take control of my life because I could not do it on my own. 

For the past ten years or so, He has steadily been opening my eyes to who He is, what He's done and what my responsibilities are as His daughter. 

After witnessing the baptisms this morning, I am considering being baptized again because now that I know the significance and meaning behind baptism and because of where I am in my life, I know it would mean something entirely different to me than it did way back 30 years ago.

The beauty of what it means to be baptized is this:  When Jesus Christ opens your eyes toward God and you understand the great Mystery of the Ages, the fact that He has imparted His Holy Spirit to live within you, it hits you that ALL the...idolotrous, lying, coveting, manipulating,  willing to steal, kill, and/or destroy to get what you wanted, selfish, self-centered, proud... person you were before is dead.  And because you have died and Christ has imparted His Holy Spirit to live within you (the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead [Romans 8:11]), you are RE-BORN; a new person who has the power within to change all the ugliness that was in you before!

Therefore, when you have really committed your life to God and are baptized:   you die, you are buried (under the water) and resurrected (lifted up out of the water).

I can't tell you the joy that reverberated through the church this morning when these indivduals gave their testimony of why they were being baptized and then actually went under the water.  The excitement was so infectious; you could feel it moving across the room.  It was wonderful and brought tears to my eyes!  I'm so happy for my new brothers and sisters in Christ who made this commitment.  Luke 15:10 says:

In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God's angels when even one sinner repents."

My prayer tonight for you, dear reader, is that the Father of All, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth, will give you mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit from His unlimited resources.  And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in Him.  May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love.  And may you have the power to understand how high, and how deep His love for you really is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never completely understand it.  (Ephesians 3:15-19).


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