Faith Background Check
Are you who you say you are?
That's the question that popped into my head when our new pastor asked me if I'd been baptized. I had a feeling the pastor's question would come up as we discussed church membership, and I told him that I was 'baptized' as an infant. Without getting too deep into the weeds of theology, it was discussed that the Southern Baptists require church members to be baptized through immersion.
Next Sunday, I am actually going to be baptized the traditional Baptist way, through immersion. Now most people who know a little about me, know I have been a Christian since I was 12 years old. I will be one of the first people to tell you that baptism doesn't SAVE you.
However, I wanted to take a moment to explain to people why someone like me, now at 45 and counting, would just now get baptized so many years after making my first profession of faith in Christ.
I grew up in the Greenville Associated Reformed Presbyterian church. My parents had me baptized in the ARP tradition of getting water sprinkled on the top of my head, when I was a tiny little fellow. I guess many denominations might compare it to a child being Christened. But as I've read more and more scripture through the years, I've come to understand baptism as more of a sign or gesture of one's belief timed with one's own acceptance and understanding of the Truth of salvation.
It was this revelation that spurred me to take up our pastor's question on whether or not I was willing to be baptized via immersion. I also happened to think of moments when so many believers have moments of doubt in their faith; doubt in Jesus. I even thought of the story of Peter that I cited above. Even Peter had doubts; the 'rock' on which Christ would build His church. I, too, have had doubts. Not necessarily in my salvation, but in the process for which I'd achieved it.
Was it real? Yes, I'd tell myself.
Was it complete?
You see, I've always tried to be a rock in my faith. And I always tried to never waver, no matter what arguments friends or rivals tried to throw against my belief in Jesus.
Yet here was this baptism-thing... making doubt raise its ugly little head.
I work in law enforcement, and I've had the joy of experiencing a couple of polygraph tests, in the hiring process at various agencies. If you've never had a 'lie detector' test, many people say you can fail the test, simply by psyching yourself out with doubt. Many of the questions will come based on what the agency already knows from your background check. Fortunately, for my two experiences with the polygraph, I passed with flying colors.
And yet here I was with the pastor, and he asked a simple question that has almost made me 'psyche myself out' in my Christian walk. Mind you, I actually processed a lot of this in a moment as my wife and I sat in the pastor's office. And I decided my answer would be solid. I decided my answer would be true. I decided, because of the public stand I've taken for my faith through my writing, and the attention I sometimes bring to myself due to the passion I have for that same faith - it was time for me to erase all doubt.
So next Sunday, when my pastor and friend dips me backwards in that water... when I am lifted back up and can breathe again, instead of being like the Peter we all know doubted Jesus 3 times, I will be like the Peter who was so crazy that he thought for just a moment, he could run out on the water to meet Jesus! Perhaps, not only for my own psyche and inner faith, but for all of the people who may one day read any of my words on a page - I can leave no room for doubt.
And I will know for sure that I can always pass that faith background check in my mind, that ever raised that doubt in the first place.
God bless all those that take the time to read this, and know that your faith in Jesus can erase doubt for you, too.