A couple of members of the church of Christ in my neighborhood suggested to me two Sundays ago that I should be re-baptized. After subsequent research (especially through your web site), I was forced to admit that I was never properly baptized. I was baptized at only 10 weeks of age!
Even before I reached that conclusion, my mind felt so overwhelmed at the start of the service two Sundays ago that I left 15 minutes into it. I don't remember the last time I'd ever walked out of a church service early! Ever since then, I've felt like a complete hypocrite: here I've been studying apologetics and defending biblical Christianity for roughly half my life, and I haven't even been baptized?!
So now come my three questions:
- Does it matter whether there are other people around (besides the one baptizing me) to watch me be baptized? I don't want to make a big spectacle of it, if it's not necessary. My family consists predominantly of Catholics, apostates, and atheists. The former probably wouldn't understand why I'd want to be baptized again, and the latter would probably pass me off as the "religious fanatic" they think I am! Either way, I don't think they'd bother showing up!
- I recognize now that baptism is a very urgent thing and that I should do it as soon as possible, but the church of Christ in my area is only open at specific times on Wednesday and Sunday! Is there any way I can get baptized sooner possibly even at a place other than the church itself?
- I've been far more irritable than usual since that Sunday, and I've been trying a new strategy to deal with my Asperger's at the same time. I've also had trouble exhibiting love and self-control for years. I tend to explode whenever political discussions come up, especially regarding homosexuality, and I'm brutally honest with people, even when I'm trying to help them. My mom calls it "having venom in my voice"! Is it possible that all of these problems stem from the Holy Spirit not giving me the fruit of the Spirit because I haven't been baptized?
I want to get baptized regardless of the answer to this last question, but I would like to know if I'm getting my hopes up too much! Again, sorry this is so long-winded. I look forward to your timely response.
It is disturbing to realize that what you assumed to be true for years really isn't true, but such things happen at times. The question should not be focused on whether you were wrong, but on how to get right.
I look at it differently. All the time you've been learning Christianity and making a defense of the Gospel has prepared you to accept the truth now that it has been presented to you. You will be starting further along that many people who become Christians because of your background -- sort of like Apollos. "Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ" (Acts 18:24-28). Apollos misunderstood baptism because he only knew the baptism of John and had not learned about Jesus yet. But that did not stop him, when he learned the truth, he was baptized and began to preach what he now knew to be true.
You don't have to wait until Wednesday or Sunday to be baptized. You can call the local preacher. He will want to talk to you regarding whether you really understand what baptism is all about, but he will be happy to baptize you immediately. I've done baptisms and seen baptisms done in the middle of the night. There is no set time for when baptisms are done.
One of the requirements is: "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32). Here in La Vista, we try to let the members know when a baptism is going to take place and those who are able come to be witnesses both of the confession and the baptism. You don't have to have family present unless you want them to be there. That is up to you.
Baptism is not a cure-all for sin. In the process of being baptized you are forgiven of all your past sins. "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). You start out with a clean slate, but temptation and sin remain an issue. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world" (I Peter 5:8-9).
One of the most common causes of anger stems from trying to control something that cannot be controlled. You can teach someone the gospel, but you can't make that person accept it. It can be frustrating that what is so clear to you is not to someone else. Yet, getting angry over this isn't going to help that person understand better. "But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will" (II Timothy 2:23-26). It is learning to swallow your pride. It is learning to focus on what is best for the other person. "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others" (Philippians 2:3-4). These aren't instant lessons that can be learned in a moment. For some of us, it requires years of practice.
The fruit of the Spirit is the impact the Holy Spirit has on your life and personality as you learn and put into practice the teachings of God from the Bible. See: Marks of God's People.