This past Sunday at Compass Church we baptized 45 people in what we called a “Spontaneous Com-Baptism” (kind of like “spontaneous combustion” except you don’t blow up). During each one of our services people were invited to come up, on the spot, without any advance planning, and get baptized. It was pretty amazing!
You can watch it here. All of the baptisms from each service are compiled at the end of the video.
I was surprised at how many “newer” Christians came forward. Many of them have been coming to Compass for six months, a year, two months, and a few even said it was their first day! Baptism doesn’t save us, of course. That happens as a work of God expressed through faith. But is a huge step of obedience and is a landmark in the life of a Christian.
So what now? What is a Christian, especially a new one, supposed to do after such a dramatic event? Here are a few thoughts:
1) Baptism, like a wedding, is only the beginning of a journey. For a married couple there is no more dramatic and life-changing day than the one where they get all dressed up, invite their family and friends, and promise to live together for the rest of their lives. Everyone knows that those moments are among the most powerful in our lives.
But those who have been married for a while know that the wedding day is just the beginning. The hope is that the marriage will deepen over the years as the couple lives together and experiences the various stages of life.
The same is true with baptism. It is a symbol of our love and commitment to Christ – a public testimony that we are laying our old lives down and choosing to follow Jesus from here on out.
But baptism is really only the beginning. It is expected that as a follower of Jesus, I will go through ups and downs, successes and failures, high points and hard times. But over time my commitment to Christ will deepen in ways I couldn’t have anticipated as a new Christian.
Judi and I look back on our wedding day as an amazing event, but we both agree our marriage is way better than it was when it all began back on June 13, 1998. We couldn’t have anticipated the dimensions of love and connection that the years of faithful commitment to each other would bring us. Similarly, the day you get baptized may be a great spiritual “high,” but the plan is that you would experience far greater things as a follower of Jesus in the years to come. Expect to look back on your baptism as a great day, but one that you will mature beyond as your faith strengthens. That leads me to my next thought:
2) The journey of following Jesus is often three steps forward and two steps back. They don’t tell you in church most of the time, but its the truth. In fact, you will often feel like you’re right back where you started. You’ll question whether you were really serious on the day you got baptized. You may even feel like an imposter.
But don’t. I believe that we have an enemy, called Satan, who wants you to believe you’re not really forgiven, that you’re a failure, and nothing more than a pretender.
That’s why you must remind yourself daily of the truth that is spoken about you in Scripture. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 5:17 that if anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation. The old life of sin, guilt, shame, and darkness is gone. You have been “raised up” to a new life! I’ve always thought about it as a the transition from a caterpillar to a butterfly. I’ve never seen a butterfly turn back into a caterpillar. How in the world would that ever happen? It’s impossible, because everything has irreversibly changed! That’s the way it is with Jesus.
I’ve heard it said that Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good – he came to make dead people live. You still might look at feel like your old self, but you have to know that you’re not.
3) The best way to grow is to simply obey God. The brilliant philosopher and author Dallas Willard once wrote that its not about believing in Jesus; everyone does that (the Bible says even demons do). It’s about believing Jesus. So when he tells us to forgive others, we forgive, even if we don’t want to. When he tells us not to store up for ourselves treasures on earth, we don’t store up for ourselves treasures on earth. We just go through our lives relentlessly believing that his way is the right way.
4) Whatever you do, don’t give up. The Bible is full of people, especially in the Old Testament, who had spectacular failures in their respective pasts: guys like Abraham, David, Solomon… even Moses! Somehow God’s grace is able to overcome our sin. One of my favorite verses is Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
If you got baptized last Sunday, I’m so proud of you and excited about what God is doing in your life! Let that moment serve as a landmark in your life, and never forget that God is at work, and he has the most amazing journey in store for you. I can’t promise it will be all roses. In fact, for many Christians, life can be hard, because you’re in the game now. You’ve got a jersey with a number on it, a goal to aim for, and an opponent who wants to take you out at the knees. But get ready for the ride of your life. And don’t forget to dive in at Compass each and every week!