John the Baptist pointed out to the people who came for baptism that they were not going to find favour with God just because of the accident of their birth. He said that simply being one of the children of Abraham made no difference. Baptism, then as now, is just a ceremony to mark the new direction you have chosen to take with your life. The proof of your having turned from a former sinful life, to a life given to God, should be seen in the way you actually live. Baptism isn’t just an idea to be agreed with or understood intellectually, it’s the formal ceremony which announces and precedes a real change in your lifestyle.
Luke 3:7-14 NLT
When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.” The crowds asked, “What should we do?” John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptised and asked, “Teacher, what should we do?” He replied, “Collect no more taxes than the government requires.” “What should we do?” asked some soldiers. John replied, “Don’t extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.”
I remember my Baptism mostly by how nervous I was. It was on Easter Sunday 2011 at Bethel Baptist Church in Whitchurch. I didn’t have a very studied idea of exactly what my life would be like as a new practicing Christian, but I did feel very strongly that I wanted to be publicly Baptised and I never wanted look back to my former, non Christian life. I was nervous for a number of reasons. Firstly, I didn’t want to appear foolish as I gave my testimony. Secondly, I had never even seen a full immersion baptism before, let alone done it myself. Thirdly, I didn’t want to fail. I wanted to change, but I was afraid I wouldn’t manage it.
Dear Lord and Father, I thank you with all my heart that you have not let me go. Since the day of my baptism you have been with me to guide me and listen to me and teach me. Father I know I have not yet fallen away from you on my new journey, but I pray in the name of Jesus, that you will continue to walk with me and always remain with me, whatever else may happen in my life. Amen.
Numbers 26:52-28:15, Luke 3:1-22, Psalms 61:1-8, Proverbs 11:16-17