Today was the first time since March that I've actually had the chance to sit in a church service. Between vacation and teaching Sunday school, my only real "church" for the past month or so has been the podcasts I listen to during my workouts (and to be honest I haven't worked out in a week...so that should tell you something right there). Thus lately I have felt pretty disconnected from God and honestly had mix feelings about going to church today. For the most part I truly do enjoy my church. My pastor is an excellent preacher and I know enough people to feel connected in some way. But, I always seem to struggle to actually get myself there. It's kinda like going to the gym for me.....I know I should go, I know once I get there I will be glad I went, but the getting myself there is the hard part. Anyway, I went and it was good.....until our pastor mentioned to "B" word. Now maybe you don't know what the "B" word is....No it's not what you're thinking, if you're thinking of a semi-curse word....for me the "B" word is baptism.
I don't know why but baptism has always been such a hard topic for me. I hate when it comes up in service because it seems no matter how much of a handle I think I have on the issue, it always blows up in my face the second anyone mentions the word. You see, I was baptized when I was 13 years old. I remember wearing the white robe, climbing into a church members pool, and I'm sure there are pictures somewhere of my former pastor dunking me in water. The only problem was/is...I didn't become a Christian until I was 14. For me, at the time, baptism was just something you did as sort of a rite of passage. All my friends were doing it and I knew my parents wanted me to do it....so I did it. Then a few years ago when I re-committed my life to Christ I started to feel really dirty about it....like somehow I had cheated God and myself out of this holy experience by not really understanding or even caring about why I had done it.
In recent years I've thought a lot about being baptized again...this time with meaning....but I always seem to find myself hung up on one thing or another. For a long while I couldn't entertain the idea of being baptized because I really didn't get the point of it. I remember going around asking a bunch of people why we get baptized and getting the same rhetorical response from ALL of them (That it's "an outward expression of what God is doing inwardly") and that kind of just pissed me off since I couldn't really understand the heart behind their words. And although I've now come to a more clearer understanding of what that means....that it's symbolizing your "death" (being buried in water) to sin and being made "alive" (coming out of the water) in Christ, that only brings up new questions for me. For instance, how can anyone justify claiming to be dead to sin in one symbolic moment, when before the day is over (or in my case the next hour even) they will sin again?! Isn't that like lying to God? And I know God sees the heart and that whether or not we are baptized we are called to live a life of holiness.....but how can I stand there in front of a crowd of witnesses and proclaim such a promise that I can't keep? And before anyone jumps all over me....I know my theology is off here. We are human and not perfect, only God is perfect and that's why He sent Jesus as our Savior to pay for our sin so that sin would no longer have a hold on us...but I can't seem to connect all the dots here in my mind.
Then there's the measly little problem of somebody else having to dunk you in the water. For one thing, I feel as if baptism should be a holy moment and moments like that you don't just want to share with anyone....you want those who love you and care for you the most standing by your side. So why is it that only pastors baptize people? I'm sure there is a logical reason for it that makes sense, but if I were honest it's definitely a hang up of mine. I often think, however sacrilegious as this may sound, that I would rather be baptized in a dunk tank then be dunked under water by someone who I don't feel completely comfortable around...and since none of my local friends are becoming ordained ministers any time soon...well you get the picture.
The thing is....I know eventually I will probably come around, figure out all my feelings on the matter and finally get baptized. And I know that when it does happen it will be in God's perfect timing......but until then....the "B" word will continue to haunt me.