First Step is a Wet One   12 comments

Christianity is really pretty simple. Admit that you’ve disobeyed God and cannot fix that on your own, believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins, confess that belief where others can hear you, and you’re saved.

That simplicity can make salvation sound like a “get out of jail free” card. It costs the believer nothing to be saved because Christ did it all. Add to it that once you’re saved you’re always saved and cannot lose or even give away your salvation, and it sounds like a great deal.

And, it is! But make no mistake, Christianity will cost the believer something. That’s where the whole confessing part comes in. Undercover Christians aren’t risking a whole lot which is why Jesus said believers have to identify with Him and that they shouldn’t be surprised that their identification with Him was going to cost them something. “The world will hate you, because it hated Me first,” He warned in John’s Gospel

A friend of mine who spent a number of years in the Middle East tells me that the reaction to a Muslim attending a Christian church is actually underwhelming. At least in Turkey, it was. People didn’t get upset about it and the church-goer didn’t seem to think they were risking anything. Until … until they became a Christian in their hearts and then they faced a dilemma. They could continue to attend church and even talk about their newborn faith, but if they decided to be baptized, they faced being marked as an apostate by the local imams. Their families would disown them and sometimes attempt to kill them.

Why? Baptism in the United States is not seen as a big deal, but Muslims perhaps understand it better than we do. For the early Christians, baptism was identifying with Christ. The symbol of being immersed in water and being brought back up parallels Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. This is also, btw, why Bapists hold to full immersion baptism. If you read Acts, you quickly see a pattern emerge. A person accepts Christ and is baptized. It is rare not to see that pattern and that may just be that it wasn’t recorded, not that it didn’t happen. To the early Church baptism was very important. Why?

Baptism identifies us as partaking in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. It is a public event. It is a first step of obedience in the Christian life. In America, it doesn’t cost us very much to do it, but I know people who haven’t and won’t even though they claim to be Christians. What I’ve learned is that it comes down to a question of control for them. They’ll couch it in all sorts of other terms, but really, they don’t like the idea that they’re showing humility before God and that someone else has to lower them into the water and pull them back up. Obedience is not their primary focus.

In most cases, those Christians remain immature and stagnant in their faith. Just my experience, but I’m pretty convinced of it. Why? Because they refuse to obey at the very first step of their walk with God and the Christian life starts and ends with obedience. All other areas of obedience cannot even get started until they’ve gotten that one out of the way.

12 responses to “First Step is a Wet One

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  1. I understand not condoning sinful behavior, but I do believe gay people were born that way. In my mind, I leave their judgment up to God. That said, I wouldn’t attend a gay wedding being led by a pastor or in a church. Guess I have that “love the sinners not the sin” attitude which may be detrimental to me judgment day.


    • I’m not sure that they are born that way. The Human Genome Project and its progeny have yet to find a gene or combination of genes that controls homosexuality. I know several lesbians and a handful of gay men. What they all seem to have in common is childhood sexual abuse, either when they were very young and often by a family member, or as teenagers in the process of “discovering” their sexuality. As a matter of fact, every lesbian I know tells the tale of some older woman in their teen years. Is that a natural bent that way or was it manipulated by someone older and more experienced? The jury is still out on that one.


    • That is interesting. I was asked by a gay man; “when was the time I chose to be straight?” It was a profound question to me because as a child I just thought boys were the best things since sliced bread. He told me that’s how he felt. At the same time, I know very well that four of my gay friends were indeed sexually abused as children. A handful of them grew up in broken homes. Then the rest had a perfectly normal childhood by all accounts. Interesting…..


      • I did work in mental health for 15 years, so I may have different contacts than you.

        What it really comes down to, Kells, is that the Bible is really clear that Christians are to flee sexual sins — not just homosexual behavior, but adultery, pre-marital sex, incest, etc. So regardless of whether you think you like the same sex better than the opposite sex, Christians are not supposed to live lives of sin, so homosexual activity is not allowed for the Christian.

        I look at this from a similar perspective. My husband comes from a long line of alcoholics. It clearly is genetic. The ones who never drink are very functional people and the ones who do start early and generally screw up their lives. My husband is sober by choice, but if he’s honest he’ll tell you that he wants a drink every day of his life. When he drinks, it inevitably leads to sin because while drinking is not a sin, drunkenness is and drinking always leads to drunkenness for him. So, he foregoes something that is likely a genetic impulse in order to please God by not sinning.

        And, that doesn’t come from me. It actually comes from a lesbian I know who chose sexual celibacy over homosexuality back when we were in college. She’s a missionary out in one of our Bush communities now. She says she still wants to have sex with women, but she doesn’t act on it and she feels that God has honored her choice in many small and powerful ways.


  2. Interesting take on personal morals trumping “friends'”individual liberties.


    • God’s morality trumps individual liberty, yes. God is greater than man and we always need to remember that. But … within a free society, people can legally have sexual relations with any consenting adult. This does not make a marriage as the Bible or as society historically has defined it. So, while the gay couple has the natural right to shack up together, society does not necessarily have to call it a marriage. It’s a civil union. I’m already on record saying I don’t think government should be in the business of sanctioning “marriage”. We should leave that to religious and social organizations and the legal issues of partnership should be worked out by contract, not by screwing with thousands of years’ worth of tradition and religious faith that are attached to marriage.

      If a gay couple choose to hold some ceremony to celebrate their civil union, that’s their natural right to do so. They can call it a wedding if they like.But they can’t force me to participate in it, embrace it, say it’s a good thing, etc. I have a natural right to hold that it is a sin and choose not to encourage it.


  3. Nice. Are the first and last steps obedience or rather faith I wonder?


    • Faith is the FIRST step, definitely, but it is a step that comes before salvation. You can’t be saved without faith. I’m addressing the first step in the Christian’s walk with Christ.


      • But doesn’t even obedience proceed from faith? I mean anyone can obey the commands of Christ but that obedience must be a result of one’s relationship with Jesus or else it’s merely a show. The pharisees, for instance, were great at obeying but their obedience was only following the rules. Does that make sense?


      • I would argue that obedience to Christ is not possible without faith in Christ. I think we’re probably saying the same thing, but in different ways. The Pharisees were great at following rules, but they missed the spirit of the rules. What I am saying here is that you can say you have the spirit of God, but if you’re unwilling to obey Him in this first act, you probably aren’t going to mature as a Christian, because you are unwilling to submit to His control of the relationship and unwilling to be identified with Him

        My friend’s experience in Turkey bears this out. He knew several people who made in-church professions of faith and even told their families, but hesitated on baptism because of the dangers involved. In every case, they eventually returned to Islam and rejected the Christian faith. Of the ones who submitted to baptism, nothing on earth or in hell below could get them to renounce it and a couple of them have died as martyrs.

        You can look at it as a rule or you can look it as a willingness to submit to God.


      • I look at it as a willingness to submit to God.

        I like the way you think, my friend.



      • As a friend and mentor said in Sunday School the other day “First you have to eat the frog.” Submission is the first step really and we humans, especially we American humans, have a really hard time submitting because that requires humility and we just don’t like to humble ourselves before anyone, not even God. I think that’s why some people resist immersion baptism. It’s a symbol of a watery grave and another human being lowers you in and lifts you back out. That requires humility. I think it may also be why God gave it as a first step of obedience, because the Christian life is all about submission and humility. When people refuse to eat the frog first, they also reject the delicious cheese cake that follows.


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