Last Sunday, we held an indoor immersion baptism at my church. A large, metal trough was brought into the church and filled with water. To be honest, I thought it was a little weird when I heard of that plan. The experience far exceeded my expectations, though. There was a brief sermon, and for the rest of the service, the worship team played while people lined up to be baptized.
Now, I’ve been to plenty of baptisms in my day – infant christenings where they sprinkle a little water on the baby’s head; lake, pond and even swimming pool immersions. My pastor baptized me in a swimming pool at his parents’ house. This was something altogether different. It was as though there was electricity in the air last weekend. You could just feel the Holy Spirit moving in a powerful way. I was singing really loud, dancing in my seat, and I briefly thought about how, as a new believer, I would have wanted to let my hair down that way, but would have been afraid to. Before I got saved, I would have been intimidated by that whole scene – people standing with their hands raised, etc. Deep down, I would have known it was authentic, though. It was that sort of feeling that hooked me when my Nana convinced me to visit her church one Easter, sixteen years ago. The joy that I felt in that service was like nothing I’d experienced in my church upbringing. This service blew that one out of the water, though. I was giddy afterwards, and so was everyone else that I talked to.
For me, one of the beautiful things about it was seeing people of different races lined up together to get in the water. I live in a very monochromatic area, so it is no surprise that our church has typically reflected that. Having grown up in the city, that is not normal to me, though. Our church has experienced a lot of growth over the past few years, and I believe it is a blessing that we are beginning to look more like a melting pot now.
After returning home that day and having some lunch, I made the mistake of getting on social media. A friend from my youth, who has been actively posting a lot of political stuff lately, shared a clickbait article about some racist white woman with the commentary “I’m beginning to think they are all like this.” Well, so much for feeling giddy. It was bad enough that he was stereotyping me unfairly, but to make matters worse, this man is married to a white woman and his only child is half white.
I was tempted to respond, but I don’t believe you can talk someone out of prejudice. Some people open their eyes eventually, but you can’t pry them open for them. The conclusion that I came to is this. What I witnessed in my church is what happens when we let Jesus have control. He brings truth, love, unity, joy and peace. People loving one another and rejoicing over their new brothers and sisters – that is what Jesus does.
Satan brings deceit, fear and hate. When media outlets write and publish divisive articles that sacrifice unity on the altar of the god of mammon, it’s obvious who they are giving control to. It’s sad that there are people who allow their view of the world to be shaped by that.
Personally, I’ll take Jesus. The view from here is a lot sweeter.
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” – Ephesians 4:4-6