Sunday, September 20, 2009

a new creation

i'll be honest--i've been composing this post in my head for the past couple of days and mentally deleted it several times. (actually, i had the whole post up for about 5 minutes and then took it back down.) it's a topic that i know is divided among people's perspectives, other denominations, etc.--and the best way i can approach it is to say that this is my opinion, this is what our church teaches, and if you want to talk about it or get more information on why i feel this way or how the church approaches it, i'd be more than happy to discuss it. however, i couldn't NOT share this with the blog world because i figured that if that if this post touches one person, has one reader asking questions or gets them thinking, pursuing, finding a church home or someone to talk to--then it's well worth it my nervousness and anxiety about sharing this very personal matter with the world.

the reason i'm nervous and anxious, but also so incredibly happy and joyful--is because tonight at small group, my husband is going to be baptized!

now some of you may be curious, because obviously i post on here quite often about our activities at church. "lauren, you just talked about spending multiple hours on end at church--you're there most every sunday, volunteer, and you and justin are in a small group. what's the deal with baptizing, especially now?"

both justin and i were sprinkle baptized as infants or children and grew up attending church. i was confirmed in middle school and my youth group and church were a huge part of my life growing up. i'm thankful for that and know that it is the core of who i am today.

in college, however, i took the opportunity to explore and try out some other churches. i'll be the first to admit that my relationship at the time had a huge play in that decision, but i don't regret it. there's nothing i can change about that and it has brought me to where i am now. that first year or two at college was a time for me to figure out what else was out there, test things out, and most importantly, make my faith my own.

and i did. i found a great church, a tight-knit college ministry and Bible study group. and now, baptism became a decision that i made on my own, symbolizing a new life in Christ. the old life, with my sins and mess and everything i had done wrong--it was gone, and grace, God's love, and Christ's sacrifice had given me a new life.

"therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

do i think that this was when i was "saved"? i don't know. i don't know if "saved" is necessarily a term that is appropriate here. i know i had felt the spirit before when i was younger and was on the right path, but pinpointing one time/place/date is not something i could easily do. i did a lot of studying on baptism before i made my decision, though, and knew that it was an important part of growing within my faith and again, making it my own. a lot of people refer to it as "an outward symbol of an inward decision"--that by making that decision to be baptized, you are saying that you're going to try and live your life for Christ and follow Him. a lot of people also believe that baptism is when the holy spirit will actually come within you. i know that after my baptism, i felt at peace--that this action symbolized a new start, a clean slate, and a renewed relationship with Christ.

the immersion--it specifically represents a death to the old life, then being raised up again to a new life. being buried under the water, just as it was done in the Bible. romans 6:4 says, "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." (quite coincedentally, this was a huge part of the sermon this morning during worship.)

so over the past year or so, we've been sharing the stories of our faith with our small group. we've taken the new member class at our church, and now it has become a decision that justin has made for himself, as well. a decision and an experience that he'll share with our friends and small group members this afternoon.

i'm excited about this evening and continuing this walk of faith with my amazing husband. i know that our God is a God of grace, of love and of forgiveness, and i pray that those who have gone before us and have lived their life for Christ will be with us one day.

i also pray that if your heart is moved, and if you want to make that decision--to have Christ call you one of His own--that you follow His command to be baptized and to live your life for Him. it's not an easy walk, and yes, we mess up and make mistakes and ask for forgiveness and start all over again. but with Him and with one another, we are able to make it through this earthly life and on to the eternal heaven.

we are never promised tomorrow,
but we can rest in the promise of being together with Jesus in heaven as His children, His followers, His kingdom.