Sunday, March 04, 2007

Baptism Sunday

I love "baptism Sunday". I've grown up observing baptism Sundays, and they are always a unique experience. Once upon a time, I didn't so much enjoy them, but once I walked in obedience and finally was baptized myself, observing them wasn't nearly so convicting. Now I can enjoy them.

I love baptism Sunday, because it is a chance to meet the family. God's family is so varied and colorful. It is always exciting for me to listen to the varying testimonies about where people were before they knew Christ, and where they are now, and why they finally decided to be baptized. Some folks had been Christians only a short time before they were baptized. Others had been Christians for years, nearly an entire lifetime, before they decided to be baptized. Some made the decision to be baptized out of their zeal for their new found faith. Other decided to be baptized out of that same zeal, tempered by a season of struggling followed by a season of humble obedience.

Some of God's family come from a fairly pristine background, in which their biggest problem was deciding whether or not they could smoke a cigarette and still be a Christian. Others come from a history of deep drug addiction, imprisonment, sex addiction, alcoholism, etc...and yet, there they stand, made new in Christ. One thing is clear...regardless of where we came from, we all came from "stuff". The stuff we came from may have been different, and some war stories are more thrilling to hear than others (if we're being honest about it), but whatever the stuff was, it was significant enough that it once stood between us and God. God had to help us reach through our stuff and take His hand before He could pull us out of the stuff we were stuck in.

I am consistently amazed by the grace of God. Sometimes, we don't make a clean break from our stuff. We cling to it, not necessarily out of stubborn disobedience, but because it is familiar and comforting and we don't even realize that it's stuff that is keeping us from deeper union with God. Certainly, people will point an accusing finger and call us evil, backslidden, deceived, and so forth...but God's grace is even bigger than the opinions of His children. God's love and grace are big enough to swallow our stuff whole, and still use our flawed and fumbling selves for His purposes.

A couple of nights ago, during a conversation about something entirely other than stuff, I learned of an impact I had one someone's life that was quite unintentional. I learned that my life, flawed and fumbling though it was, had an impact on someone else's life in a way that helped that person see the love of Jesus in spite of the judgement and accusation they so often received from Christendom. That person is so wonderfully and gloriously unashamed of who they are, and they still have the audacity to proclaim a love for Jesus and Truth. Such stuff, which is not stuff, is not well accepted by those are dealing with their own stuff. At any rate, the time in my life when my relationshp with this person was most thriving was a time in my life when I had a lot of stuff. I was not the kind of person I thought a person had to be to be used by Jesus. As it turns out, Jesus even uses people with stuff...big and impact people for Him. Isn't that something?

That's the big Stuff.
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