Baptism is a big deal in our family. A milestone to be celebrated. It's the outward expression of the inward decision each one has made to become a follower of Jesus. I was baptized when I was seven, after a walk up the aisle during the Sunday night service. Bryan, though, was raised Presbyterian and was sprinkled as an infant. Before we got married, we had extensive talks about baptism. Yes, Bryan (who became a Christian as an adult) was convinced (along with Luther, Calvin, and Wesley) that the Greek word meant immersion. Yes, he believed that it was meant to be the choice of the individual believer, not the choice of parents or the church. No, he hadn't been immersed.
Now, I hadn't completely figured out yet that the best way to get Bryan NOT to do something was to try to get him TO do it. But I learned pretty quickly. He held off for awhile, and I didn't try to push him. Then, when I was pregnant with Evan (number three), I just asked him one question, "What do you want our children to do about baptism?"
That sealed the deal for Daddy. Bryan was baptized in the Medina River in 2004, over ten years after he became a Christian. Friends (like Tim!) and family celebrated with us and it was a great day.
|Bryan and Tim in 2004|
At our church, fathers can baptize their own children, and Bryan did baptize Nathan, Megan and Evan. Justin felt after Bryan died like he had missed his opportunity. It took him a good while to entertain the idea of baptism again, and we had lots of conversations about it. Carsten was listening to all of them. Just recently, he came to me and said,
Carsten: "Mom, when you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and want to follow Him, you're supposed to be baptized, right?"
Me: "Yes, that's right."
Carsten: "I want to be baptized so that I'll go to heaven."
Me: "Well, you don't actually HAVE to be baptized to go to heaven. [Megan inserts a comment about the thief on the cross.] You see, baptism is just a sign of obedience- a way to tell everyone that you've decided to follow Jesus. The only thing that you have to do to go to heaven is believe that Jesus died for your sins and was raised again on the third day. Baptism is the next step, but you don't have to be baptized to be saved."
Carsten, silently looking at me for several moments: "So are you supposed to be baptized or not?"
Me: "Umm, yes."
Carsten: "Then let's do it."
And so my little rule-follower led the way and the two little buddies decided to be baptized. I really thought Carsten would back out. First, he hates to be wet. If he gets a single drop of water on his shirt, he changes his entire outfit. Second, he HATES to have people look at him. He must have said, in the days leading up to the big event, ten times, "I just wish they didn't have to look at me." And then in the car on the way to church, "Mom, do they look at you when you get married too?" "Yes, they do." Deep sigh, head shaking.
Our friend (and youth minister) Paul did a great job setting them at ease. Justin went first and responded "yes" when Paul asked him if he believed.
"I got baptized first!"
|The Baptism Buddies|
Sigh. Christlike character development is a lifelong process.
"Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death,
that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,
even so we also should walk in newness of life."