“I was saved on June 26, 1975 at 1:30 a.m. at the Colonial Apartments on Laguna Beach near Panama City, Florida… I was baptized on July 6, 1975 with Mark Smith, Brandon Smith and Mike Tiller by Rev. Tommy Reaves at the creek behind Donald Lloyd’s house.” These are the words I wrote as a fifteen year old in the front of my KJV Scofield Reference Bible, Red Letter Edition.
After making my commitment to Christ and being baptized, my grandmother encouraged me to write the date of those significant events in the front of my Bible so I would never forget them.
Baptism in that cold country creek was a significant moment recorded in my Bible and my soul with permanent ink. Popular preacher and author Max Lucado says that “Baptism separates the tire kickers from the car buyers.” In other words, when you are baptized, you are no longer content to hide in the crowd of spectators applauding Jesus. Rather, you “buy in” to what it means to be a full-fledged follower of Jesus.
Brian McLaren proposes that “Baptism is rich in meaning. It suggests cleansing. When you are a disciple, you understand that you are cleansed by Christ. You understand that Christ died in your place on the cross, paying for your sins, fully forgiving you for all your wrongs. You are cleansed from guilt, and you are becoming a cleaner, healthier, more whole person.”
I don’t believe that everyone has to remember the time, date, and location of their conversion and baptism to be considered a genuine Christian, but for me, remembering my baptism has helped me to confirm and reaffirm my faith during some pretty tough times. There’s an old gospel song that says, “I can tell you the time, I can show you the place, where the Lord saved me by his wonderful grace.”
Do you remember your baptism? As followers of Jesus who learn and live out Christ’s teaching in a Baptist community of faith, being baptized is pretty important…not so much to “seal the deal” but to confirm and launch us into a life of grace and growth. Baptism becomes a vital part of our life’s story…a part of the story to be remembered, treasured, and lived forward.
(Barry Howard serves as senior minister at the First Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida.)