For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10 ESV)
Two Sundays ago, I was baptized at our church. It was incredible and I was far more emotional than I expected to be. I have been a Christian for over 14 years but had never taken the step to be baptized. There were different reasons for this at first, but can I be honest with you? Eventually the reason became fear of what others would think:
I’ve been a Christian for so long, will people judge me for not being baptized until now?
Will people think that I wasn’t really a Christian for all of those years?
What will they think if I’m only now baptized but I’ve been doing ministry for over a decade?
Will it be awkward?
Is the the right time?
I mean, YUCK, to put it eloquently. Nothing about admitting that is easy or fun. Honestly, at a certain point, it came down to simple disobedience. Do I believe that baptism is important? Yes. Do I believe that it is an outward expression of an inward change? Yes. Do I believe that the Bible (and specifically Jesus) calls believers to be baptized? Yes. So then really, nothing should have been holding me back.
Often what gives me pause when it comes to obeying God is the fear of what others may think of me, my family, or my lifestyle. Paul clearly speaks against this in Galatians when he says, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Gal 1:10 ESV). This is a verse with which I wholeheartedly say “AMEN” to when I read it, but then struggle in my flesh to walk it out all of the time. Here’s a beautiful truth though: I have never once regretted obeying God, but I have regretted my many instances of disobedience.
That Sunday when I was baptized, I thought afterward about what I had experienced:
I felt closer to Jesus in that moment, and after.
I understood the heart of Jesus in a deeper way.
I experienced the Holy Spirit in a way that I would not have otherwise.
I can now celebrate fully with others when they are baptized, because I now have a heart knowledge and not only a head knowledge about it.
There was enormous freedom and joy in taking that public step of faith and I would have missed it had I continued sitting in fear rather than obeying Jesus. Baptism is a special sacrament, to be sure, but as I mulled over my experience, I realized that often these are the exact same things that happen anytime I step out in faith and obey God. I am drawn closer to Him, I do understand His heart more as I love those that He loves, I absolutely experience the Holy Spirit’s presence and power, and I am able to move with greater sympathy toward others as I enter into their situations and lives. And the joy of living into how I was created is unrivaled by anything else this side of heaven.
What is God asking you to walk in obedience with this week? Is there a coworker that you could invite to lunch? Do you need to forgive your spouse for something? Are you feeling a tug to reach out to a nonprofit and figure out how you can get involved? Does He simply want you to take Him at His Word and trust the promises of Scripture? Whatever the case may be, I promise you that you will not regret saying “yes”. It may be uncomfortable, others may not understand, and you might feel inadequate or insecure. But you will also find a freedom and joy that nothing else in this world can offer. I’m praying for you, friends!
“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (I John 5:3 NIV)