In 2002, when I gave my life to God with tears and conviction never to turn away from Him again, I sought to belong to the Church. At that time, I was attending KICC, and I began their water baptism classes, so that I could be baptized. I completed the classes and participated in the water baptism ceremony, dressed in white and dunked in water. It meant everything to me.
But not long after that, I met a group of believers, who called themselves Jesus Christians, and they taught me that the KICC, and the Christian Church at large, were wrong about this practice and other teachings of Jesus. I read their material and was convinced that they were truly following God more obediently that other Christians. So, I packed up and followed them.
I wrote about my experience with this group here.
Alas, that didn’t work out, and I was disconnected from that body and the other body of believers. I became a lone Christian. I clung to Jesus but couldn’t find family with His Church. I desired fellowship and unity, but agreement was very hard to find. Not simply because many of these churches and fellowships disagreed on very important teachings. For my sanity, I thought I was better off alone…
Today, as I was singing along to a Hillsong praise song, I remembered when I went to the altar at GLA, a church I began to attend when I returned to Nigeria, and I realised the obvious. I have been to many churches and I’ve been welcomed, but like a leaf, I have been blown away by the wind to the next church. Why? Because I was not planted.
In the spirit, I saw my condition, and I desired to be planted! I don’t want to go to a church for a while, until I am no longer comfortable or disgruntled by one thing or the other. I want to be planted. I want to belong.
I recalled the image of the redwood tree’s roots, and how, though they are not that deep, they spread wide and are entangled with the roots of other redwoods, making them strong and inseparable. They are able to grow real tall and stand all sorts of conditions because of their intertwined community. That is a picture of how we ought to be so planted in the Church. Be our brother’s keeper, and submit to one another.
So, I began to pray that I would be planted into God’s vineyard… That I would be buried so that I can bear fruit…more fruit. Alone, I am vulnerable to plucking. Vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks. Vulnerable to giving up. Yes, being in community is challenging. Being submitted to others, who you may not always agree with is difficult, but that is the path of love Jesus called us to walk.
So, as I prayed about being buried, the image of being buried in water came to mind, as well as Paul’s word: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection…” (Romans 6:4-5 KJV).
This ties in with Jesus’ words, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal…” (John 12:24-25 KJV).
By surrendering ourselves to water baptism, we make a declaration of love to one another and the Body of Christ, denying ourselves (our individuality), and choosing to be part of the divine Body that Christ is building. It is like a marriage ceremony, especially in its symbolism. The ceremony is an outward show of something that has already happened inwardly (in the spirit), a testimony to others of our decision and our belonging.
I guess that was why Peter felt the need to still baptise Cornelius and his household with water, even after they had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:47-48).
My beliefs concerning water baptism, which is essentially that it is no determinant of our salvation or required for believers to do, has kept me from belonging to another fellowship since the Jesus Christians. But now, I see the significance of this practice in binding believers to each other through their shared reason and hope.
I desire to be baptised again with water, like a renewal of my marriage vows, showing my commitment to the Body of Christ, as a living part of it.
The question is now – to which church or denomination? Is it more important to be planted than to whom one is planted? I do not plan on, nor do I recommend being baptised into a different church, every time you feel a need to move. Our baptism is not into an individual church, but the spiritual body of Christ, which is not divided. So, I guess knowing why you are doing it is more important.
For me, it is a decision to love God’s Church and to be part of a living body of believers, encouraging and being encouraged, strengthening and being strengthened…
I know the trials and dangers of being a loner. I probably don’t know the depth of damage it has done to my life, because I now see there are so many things I would have been saved from if I had had a strong and loving community of believers watching over me. I don’t want that for my children, and I don’t wish that for anyone.
So, here am I, Lord. Send me a family to love.
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Categories: Critical Thinking, Issues of Life, Recommended, The Latest, True Religion
This was a beautful read, Ufuomaee. We are part of a body, and we are safe as we travel together. You make this very vivid in your write-up.
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Thanks for reading and commenting 🤗