Last Sunday we had the joy of baptising Abby, Alex, Chris and Kingsley. As Nigel said on the day, “It doesn’t get better than this in church life.” The church was packed with regulars and visitors, all come to celebrate and investigate what was going on. It was fantastic! A few days on, here are a few of my reflections on the day.
It was wonderful to hear the stories of how they came to know and love Jesus. When someone gives their testimony they’re showing how their story and God’s story have come together. All Christians have one testimony – before the dawn of time God chose to save us, in the person of Jesus He lived our life and died our death, by His Spirit we came to understand the gospel and be brought to new life just like Jesus raised from the dead. We all share one story. But how that story becomes our story is different for each of us.
How wonderful to hear of the various ways that God woos us and wins us round! Even friends of ours who didn’t know any of the four getting baptised said their stories brought tears to their eyes and were so encouraging. How much more for those of us who know and love these guys. We should tell our stories more often.
Baptisms are also a great chance to reflect on our own relationship with God. Just as weddings are great times to re-evaluate your own marriage and remember when it all started, a baptism makes you look back. It was especially poignant for me because the day after these baptisms was the 12th anniversary of my own baptism. God has brought me so far since then and never let me down. Seeing the fresh enthusiasm and delight of those being baptised is a challenge to us all. May we never lose the joy of our salvation or our first love.
It was also the first time I’d been involved in doing the dunking in a baptism! Aside from the awesome privilege to be involved in this way, what really struck me was the shocking picture that baptism paints. When else do you grab somebody and push them backwards under water?! The fact that most of them came out of the water with a cough and a splutter shows what a radical image baptism is of dying and being buried with Christ before being raised with Him to new life.
In our current series in Luke’s gospel we’re seeing how Jesus calls us to follow Him by picking up our crosses. This is an invitation to come and die. Baptism is a picture of choosing to die now so that we can be brought to real life. As we saw when we looked at 1 Peter last term, the waters of baptism are like the floodwaters of God’s judgement in Noah’s day; we deserve to go under and stay under (!!) but if we’re in the Ark /Christ we come through safely on the other side. What a dramatic thing baptism is!
These four guys really put themselves out there on Sunday, publicly declaring their faith in Jesus in front of the friends and family they’d invited. Let’s pray for them in the coming days and weeks, that they’d stay strong and be wise in how they follow up with those who came to see and those who couldn’t make it. How wonderful would it be if God used these baptisms to draw even more people to Himself! We need to pray.
If it doesn’t get better than this in church life, we should be aiming for more days like this. That’s why we keep praying for God to save people and why we want to keep pushing out in evangelism to reach the lost. Think of all the little conversations which lead these four to faith, the friends who went out of their way to open up and to listen, the insignificant moments which turned out to be life-changing. These baptisms are all the Lord’s doing, but He has used the prayers and efforts of His people to do it. That’s partly why it’s such a joy to see stuff like this – because each person’s testimony and baptism is the culmination of so much love and prayer and heartache and persuasion all given in the hope that one day these guys would stand up and say, “I once was lost but now I’m found.”
Let’s make sure days like last Sunday spur us on to stay focused on the task of reaching out to people with the gospel which cleanses us and brings us life. Because God really does save people. Hallelujah!
If you trust in Jesus but haven’t been baptised yet, why not speak to someone at church about it. We’d love to chat with you more about what it means and whether it’s the right next step for you. We’re planning another baptism service for next term so the chance could come sooner than you think!
Those are some of my reflections. But what did you think of the day?
Photos by Becci Brown.