What Baptism means to me...
My religious background is a bit hodge-podge due to change in churches at the age of 7. At 7 is when we started going to Catholic Church. My dad was raised German Catholic out in Oklahoma. He went to Catholic School, etc. He is a devout Christian who reads his Bible every morning! My mother was raised in teh Baptist Chruch, but from what I have gathered over the past few months she was raised in a house that loved the Lord, but one that church has nothing to do with being a Christian (I'll get to that another time).
When I was 7 years old my family switched from non-denomination church to Catholic. Since I was not baptized as a baby, I was baptized at the ripe old age of 7 (in Catholic years that's pretty old!). I was REALLY excited about being baptized because I loved God and he was already in my heart (just how my bible school kids say it). Just before my baptism our church had a mishap...the upper seating crashed down to the bottom floor ~ so we had to start going to church at Garfield High School (just around the corner from the biggest mall in NoVa ~ Potomac Mills). So I was baptized in a high school, on a stage. I was not immersed, but I was oiled up and sprinkled on...but it was SOOOO EXCITING!
I don't know what happened to me during the years that followed. I still loved God and I still prayed. I had moments that unbelievable things happened to me or around me that I know it was God. Over all, even though I knew the truth, I didn't put all my eggs into "that" basket. I had this theory that God loved me and I loved him and if something happened I had been baptized and SURELY he knows my heart...but it was time for FUN!
My thinking has changed a LOT over the past few years. I have thanked God over and over for not just taking me off the planet, before I was right with him. I realize that as a teenager and a young adult it's so easy to fall into sin...and become wishy-washy because the sinful things, quite frankly, are much more fun and exciting! I wish I had more will power back then, more trust and dependence on God. I was not a good person, but he let me come to where I am today...and I am so THANKFUL! There are times that I wish I could just do it all over again...but then I realize that if I did that I would not be the person that I am today and I would not be as thankful to God for sparing my life, that is for certain!
Tommy and I didn't really go to church up in VA. We have every excuse possible as to WHY we didn't go to church: the churches were too big, they were too cold, we were too busy, we needed "family" time, and the list goes on and on... If we moved back up to VA tomorrow we would be going to church...so I know it was all excuses. It IS hard to get up on Sunday mornings when you've been out partying to all hours the night before...(I told you I was bad!)
My baptism came up a few years ago...after we moved to Florida. Once we got settled into our apartment after moving down here we started going to a non-denominational church. God was stirring me more and more...and we finally decided to become members. Well, I got a SLAP in the face...that I need to be baptized...
Did you say I have to be BAPTIZED?
Pardon me...I believe I was already baptized and have the Holy Spirit within me which I love VERY MUCH! It was not a fun day at the Diaz household. I was highly upset and felt judged and everything else. Now...the church went ahead and allowed us to become members...but I knew I wasn't really a member yet, because they made that LOUD and CLEAR to me. I was hurt, can you tell? You really have to understand that my walk with God at the age of 7 when I was baptized was a very close walk. I was so hurt to be told it wasn't "real." It was real in MY EYES!
I didn't run up there and get baptized either, just because they said so! I am one of those people that has to read the Bible, search it out and pray about it. I believe that I talked to everyone in my family and my good friend Beth...saying...can you BELIEVE that AUDACITY?!!! My husband...he was on my back to get it done. He was sympathetic though...saying to me, I know how you feel, but I just know what the Bible says and so I think you should do it. And me being defensive lashed out and said...so because I wasn't dunked (only sprinkled)...I'm going to HELL?????? I promise you I am NOT a stuborn person (hahahahahaha)!
So...I started reading and reading and praying and praying. I prayed some more. I fully understand that to become a follower of Christ you have to be baptized. I am not disputing this in any way. In discerning whether or not to be rebaptized I was coming from the view point of the heart. The view that the heart is what REALLY matters, which I believe is the truth ~ to a certain degree. The heart is the place that EVERYTHING starts. When I was 7 and was baptized, it was with my WHOLE heart! This is where it all changes...
I was 7 years old. Enough said. I loved God and I was trying to walk with Jesus right there beside me, within me, but at some point, even as a child, I began to wander away from that. Then came adolesence... At some point I just decided to live my life the way that I wanted to live my life. I attended church weekly and I knew the truth for the truth. I knew that I wasn't "in" the truth...and that is how my life continued. I knew that when I decided to turn to the truth that God would be waiting there for me...and so I would seek him off and on, when I needed him. I wasn't REALLY walking with God.
So was my original baptism a real baptism? I think it was. I do...but I had to take a look at my life. I had walked away from God...no matter how you want to look at it. I was too young to make a true decision about being a Disciple of God. That is what baptism is all about!
Baptism is the first step to discipleship.
Webster describes a disciple as the following:
One who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: as
a : one of the twelve in the inner circle of Christ's followers according to the Gospel accounts
b : a convinced adherent of a school or individual.
Once you realize that your life is NOTHING without God, you acknowledge that Jesus died for your sins and you feel anguish at all you have done that was not right...and you want to live a life with God then baptism is the next step. You are baptized to wash away the sins of your past (the whole reason Jesus died on the cross), you recieve GRACE and the Holy Spirit within. When you are done...you are clean and you are now a follower of Christ. A disciple. You can't help but tell everyone else and live that life!
Peter replied, "Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God." Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation!"
So once you have been baptized and you are all white, shiney, new and clean then its time that you walk like a disciple. It's reading his word (his LOVE letters to us), being in this world but not OF this world. It's being a friend to all, putting God first and in so doing taking care of those around you...and in so doing hopefully they will find God from being around YOU!
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Now, as I said...I had a hard time coming to grips with being re-baptized. I did, but then I read a verse. And then I read it OVER and OVER and OVER. Oh, to be subservient! That is a challenge that I have...taking orders from others, apparently, even from God. Hmmm. Here is the Son of God...who is perfect in EVERY WAY! Yet...he was baptized by a man ~ and when he was done, his Father said that he brought him Much Joy.
Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk him out of it. "I am the one who needs to be baptized by you," he said, "so why are you coming to me?" But Jesus said, "It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires." So John agreed to baptize him. After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy."
...so what I realized was that even though I believed I had already been baptized, I was very young and I really didn't know/understand what being a Christian was all about...nor did I take that role seriously. I needed to be baptized again out of obedience to the Father, just like Jesus did, even if He probably didn't really need to. That was my rationalization. As opposed to the first time I was baptized, this time I was baptized to walk TOWARDS God with God...not to just meander through life and do as I please. My husband baptized me in that church a few years ago and since then my life has CHANGED! I have decided to try and become more like Christ (even if we ALL fall short) at least if I'm trying to ~ hopefully I won't be AS BAD as I was before.
Yes, I was stubborn, but from it I have realized the true meaning of baptism. For those that may have been baptized as small children or even infants ~ maybe you can have a better understanding why other Christians feel it so important to be "born again." It's a loving act of obedience to God the Father from having faith in Jesus Christ as your savior and letting the Holy Spirit work within you to do good works for God!