Friday, December 7, 2007

Down to the Water

Down to the Water
By John Fischer

Think about your baptism today. And if you haven’t been baptized, you will want to be, if you are a believer in Jesus.

I was baptized in a lake on the campus of Stanford University with a small crowd of believers and unbelievers looking on. It was a warm Sunday afternoon in March 1971. Two of my best friends put me down. I still have somewhere a picture of them pulling me up out of the water. I had the picture blown up to an 8 X 10 and framed on the wall of my office at the time. It was, and still is, my “credential” for life.

I had been baptized before at age 9. I was “sprinkled.” That means the minister dipped his hand in some water and sprinkled it on top of my head. Getting baptized again as an adult wasn’t an issue of doctrine or theology; it was an issue of passion. I was watching all my friends and a whole bunch of new converts get baptized and I wanted to join them. I felt a little like Peter when he protested having Jesus wash his feet and Jesus said that he couldn’t be a part of Him unless he let Him do this, to which Peter replied “Well then, give me a bath!” or something to that effect. I understand that. I wanted to get all wet. I wanted to identify with the death and resurrection of Jesus and I wanted to identify with my new family in Christ.

When you are baptized you go down. You put yourself in the hands of someone else and they fold you back under the water. Now they could keep you there and you’d really die, but they pull you back out as a symbol of your death to your old way of living, and your rising to a new way of life trusting in the Spirit of God. And there is great joy in this.

You go down a sinner and come up a saint. You go down guilty and come up forgiven. You go down dead and come up alive. You go down alone; you come up in the family of God. It’s really a big deal. If it hasn’t happened to you, you need to consider it. If it has, you need to remember.

That’s a big part of this—remembering. Whenever you are tempted to doubt your faith, remember. Whenever you think that what you just did, God could never forgive you for, remember. Whenever you are tempted, remember. Whenever you think you are alone, remember. It happened to you in time and space. You were baptized into this and you have witnesses. Just as Jesus was crucified and raised again at a point in time in the real world, you were identified with Him as well, and with all those who have believed in Him from all time all over the world.
That’s a big deal; and a pretty big family, indeed!

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