Why I Was Baptized in My 70s
Last summer, my wife, Carol, and I sat down with Pastor Dale Shaw to be interviewed for membership. He was definitely curious about this 70+ year-old wanting to be baptized. And he (reasonably) wondered about possible struggles I might be having moving forward.
After all, if I have been a Christian for so long, why hadn’t baptism happened earlier? Well, it did; nearly eight decades ago when I was an infant.
Growing Up in Church
I grew up in a Christian home where church had always been a part of my life. As a youth, I was simply a “participant.” My Christian walk didn’t begin until I was a teen attending a Billy Graham Crusade. I went forward and declared Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
Thinking More about Baptism
The past few years have found me thinking more about baptism. Before College Park, Carol and I had been members of the Reformed Church of America. In terms of denominations, we have never been too concerned about whose sign is on the front lawn. Instead, we’ve always sought strong biblically grounded preaching of God’s Word. We’ve wanted the worship to be joyful and full of thanksgiving and praise. And we’ve wanted to be a part of a church community that had a passion for outreach.
What Is Baptism?
I was baptized in the Reformed tradition which believes in “one baptism” where, in the case of an infant, God’s grace is extended to the child. And, of course, one’s parents and the congregation promise to raise the child to become a follower of Jesus Christ.
This is quite different from College Park’s belief in a “believer’s baptism,” where baptism is an outward act done by those who inwardly believe in Jesus. In this context, the apostle Paul’s words in Romans 10:9-10 have been foundational for me:
[I]f you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Salvation is God’s gift to those who place their faith in Jesus. And baptism is another way we are able to “confess” our faith. In it, we demonstrate that we participate in his life, death, and resurrection (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12).
Joining a Church Family, Submitting to Jesus
With our decision to seek membership within the College Park Church community, a believer’s baptism was, thankfully, a necessary requirement. I was grateful for this opportunity and saw it as an act of obedience to Jesus’s command for believers to be baptized and to follow everything he commanded (Matt. 28:18-20).
Too many decades ago, I was baptized as an infant; and that was my parent’s decision. As an adult, this decision was mine. And I made it with a joyful heart—a heart focused on obedience and surrender.
A Church Celebrating
At College Park, the act of baptism is a wonderful celebration.
I was grateful my baptism happened within such a supportive church community and this support has been expressed in so many ways. It has come from our pastors and staff. Our Small Group has been wonderful, and there have been a number of individuals who have reached out in very personal ways.
Both Carol and I feel wonderfully blessed to be members of this church. I am grateful I was able to celebrate this special moment with our church family to acknowledge what Jesus has done for me.