We are thankful for the new identity that God gives us through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ, and we get to celebrate this Mission Weekend!
Here’s Rachael’s story of how she came to accept the new identity God offers her:
I became a Christian when I was 10 years old. I grew up attending church with my family where I learned about God. One night while reading a kid’s devotional, God revealed to me how much he loved me and that Jesus had died for me, and that’s when I decided to follow him.
When I moved away to college, I was on my own for the first time and had to decide for myself whether I would continue to pursue Christ since my mom was no longer making sure I sat in the pew every Sunday morning. I spent the first semester going to a Bible study but not really committing to anything or going to church. That Christmas break I went to a Campus Crusade Christmas conference, and that was where I decided to re-dedicate my life to Christ. God showed me how much I had let my life be consumed by school and other things of this world and that I needed to put him first.
I became a leader with Cru for the next few years, and during that time I grew in my faith, mostly due to a Cru staff woman, Paula, who discipled me and showed me what it looks like to follow Christ. She never gave up on me, leading by example and continually pointing me to Christ.
A key struggle she helped identify in my life is my need to perform. I often rely greatly on my accomplishments and receive validation by others acknowledging and praising the work I do, rather than remembering that my identity is secure in Christ. During college, this resulted in me placing my self-worth on receiving good grades and excelling at schoolwork. Now, as a research scientist, it comes up in the pressure to “publish or perish.” Basically, in the industry you better publish as many papers as you can and a lot of work, or else your career will die. It’s the perfect field for someone with my kind of drive, yet it can be a curse if I let it consume me and lose focus of where my true self-worth comes from.
But God has been working in my heart and teaching me that nothing I can do will make him love me more or less, and I am not saved by what I do. A verse that really speaks to me is Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Salvation is a gift, and I cannot earn it by my achievements.
As I mentioned earlier, I grew up going to church, and while they did baptisms now and then, they did not greatly push it, so I was never baptized. In college and grad school, I frequently saw other people get baptized and always felt like I should, but it didn’t seem like the right time. I thought it was too late because it had been many years since I became a Christian and therefore baptism seemed no longer necessary. Or I thought is was too early because I thought that I would get baptized when my life was more stable, after I finished school, once my relationship with God was better, or I had “arrived” at some higher level in my faith. I always had some kind of excuse.
Lately, our Young Adult leader, Mark Kang, has been talking a lot about baptism and mentioning how important church membership is. Since one of the prerequisites for membership is being baptized, I have finally decided to get baptized. I’ve decided to forget all the excuses I had before, knowing that it’s never too late to get baptized and it’s definitely not too early. I’m not going to “arrive” at a place where I finally feel that my faith is the strongest it will ever be, and baptism doesn’t mean that I’ve achieved some spiritual level in my life. I simply want to declare that I love God, knowing that life is a journey of seeking, knowing, and loving him more. He has freed me from the trap of finding my self-worth in my accomplishments, and I know that my identity is in Christ.
One special thing about getting baptized at this time is that my mom will be able to be there and watch. My mom is the spiritual leader in my life who has shown me the love of a parent and the love of God. She has shown me what it looks like to persevere through struggles and not lose faith. She always said that her goal in life is to make sure her children “know and love the Lord,” and she has succeeded at that. So it’s extremely special to me, and I know to her as well, to see me get baptized.
Baptism at Grace
During all worship gatherings on Baptism Weekends, we celebrate the very reason we exist as a church: Christ’s mission to make disciples, baptizing and teaching in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28: 19-20). We share testimonies of how Jesus changes lives now and for eternity. And the best part… we baptize with a joy that’s out of this world!