"I'm All In"

By Pastor Mark Patredis

      Participating in someone’s baptism is one of my greatest joys and privileges as a pastor. I love the excitement, fears, and unique spiritual journeys that the candidates bring to the baptism class as they prepare to follow Christ’s example through baptism.

     When I was baptized as a child, I don't think I fully understood the significance of my baptism. I knew I had invited Jesus into my heart and asked forgiveness for my sins, and I wanted to declare to my church family that "I had decided to follow Jesus." In fact, we sang that song at the conclusion of the service. But I wasn't aware of the sacramental aspect of baptism. I discovered that baptism is a “means of grace” whereby God does something in and for us as we submit ourselves to the baptismal waters. 

     It's like taking a spiritual bath. My old life is buried with Christ in baptism and when I come up out of the water, I am resurrected with Christ -- a new creation! I don't understand it, but I've seen the spirit stir the waters and watch people come up out of the water with a greater awareness of their identity in Christ and with the power to follow him.

     Occasionally, I'll have someone ask me, "Would it be possible to have a private baptism for just me and my family?" That question most often comes from an apprehension of being in front of a large group of people with wet hair. I try to explain the communal aspect of baptism. A public declaration of faith through baptism blesses your church family and fosters accountable relationships. It enables others to offer their prayer support and encouragement as you commit to follow Christ.

     When you attend a baptism service, I would encourage you to actively respond in these ways. Revisit your own baptism. Remember the joy of your salvation and recommit along with those being baptized to renounce anything that would draw you away from the love of God, and surrender to his leadership in your life. Then ask God to place the names of one or two of the folks getting baptized on your heart so that you can be praying for them as they endeavor to become more like Jesus.

     When I baptized my friend, Johnny Mustiful, back in August, I loved what he said just before I lowered him into the water: "I'm all in!"

May we all respond with that same devotion to Christ’s call to follow him.  

     “This is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace--  new life in a new land!”

- Romans 6:4 The Message