Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Christian Baptism (10/18/07)
By Randy Cobb
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The celebration before him unfolded with grand but typical awe. A line of new believers took their stand before the crowd and with gleaming enthusiasm shared a little of themselves. One was a husband who credited his steady wife’s love for him and humble faith walk as what led him to recently give his life to Christ. Another told of her years living in the prison of abusing prescription drugs and alcohol and of her newfound freedom a few months ago. And yet another was a teen that wanted desperately to tell of how his encounter with Jesus and His Holy Spirit had caused him to genuinely love his dad for the very first time, but he dared not tell in order to avoid discrediting his family.
Testimony after testimony Seth’s heart leaped in applause with those standing before him identifying themselves as Christ-followers. Inspired by their examples he simultaneously lifted praises from his own heart as he recounted things God had done for, and in, him. It was in releasing this litany of thanksgiving and worship that his heart was prodded with the memory of “give God permission.” God was on the scene moving through all that was taking place to give Seth the opportunity to invite Him into the here-and-now.
The pastor’s words were a presentation Seth has all but memorized himself over the course of the previous years. He explained about baptism’s symbolism for new life, the New Testament’s instructions for new believers, and the historical significance of baptism in the Church. Yet Seth was, in the process of all that was transpiring, hearing something else. He was attuned to another voice.
This voice was, with a caliber of enthusiasm that would inspire one to action saying, “Give God permission.” After a few rounds of listening to these three words Seth was willing to respond. He said, “Holy Spirit, what is it You want permission to do?”
Because of his years of experience listening to the voice of the Spirit and taking action Seth knew he was in a divine moment of interacting with the Almighty. Because of his years of experience hearing the Spirit’s voice and failing to be obedient to the gentle whisper – and living with the consequences of disobedience – Seth knew it was a divine moment he did not want to have pass him by.
So when the Spirit responded to Seth’s quiz with, “Help you forgive those who have abused you through their malicious words,” he knew God was presenting him with the next crucial step in his spiritual maturity. Seth knew and understood that God was calling him to face off with the many adjectives that had been unjustly thrown his way. He knew that God was calling him to deal with the disastrous effects of the abuse and with his distaste for the self-consumed and insecure that had thrown slander his way. God was presenting before Seth an opportunity to live above the affects of the degradation that had been planted in his spirit.
The occasion at hand may have been witnessing the baptism of fellow congregants, but the opportunity was much more than a passive exercise of witnessing an ordinance. By its very nature baptism represents releasing the old and embracing the new. Every baptism celebration should be the opportunity for believers to remember their own baptism, and in doing so “give God permission” to take unexplored aspects of their daily living … from death into new life.
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