When did you become a Christian?”

That’s a question I’ve been asked several times in my life. For a long time my answer was very simple: November 13, 1983. I was 15 years-old and went to a Petra concert with some friends. At the end of the concert one of the band members gave the invitation. He talked about God’s love for us, our sin, how Jesus died on the Cross for our sins and how we had to receive Him. He led us in the Sinner’s Prayer (“all heads bowed and all eyes closed”) and asked us to raise our hands if we had accepted Christ. I raised my hand. And for probably two decades that was when I became a Christian. As far as I was concerned the deal was sealed that day. And it was a momentous day – my life definitely took a different turn after the concert. So there’s the answer. Case closed.

When did you become a Christian?

I had a friend in high school who believed that you could not become a Christian unless you were baptized by immersion. To him it did not matter that I had prayed the Sinner’s Prayer or raised my hand. It did not matter that I had repented and changed the direction my life was going. This got me thinking and reading the Bible on the matter and when I was 19 I asked the minister of the church I was going to if I could be baptized by immersion. I knew that I was saved but I also believed this was the right thing to do. So I was immersed in church in front of the whole congregation including my future wife. If I wasn’t a Christian before I certainly was then.

When did you become a Christian?

But actually I had been baptized much, much earlier than that. The church my parents went to believed in baptizing infants. I was presented to the minister by my parents, the congregation was there supporting us and the minister sprinkled water on my little head and baptized me in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Looking back I’m not sure what this meant. Obviously at the time it meant nothing to me but it meant a lot to my parents and to our church. Can I really say that this was ephemeral and unimportant? Is it possible that this set in motion a chain of events that brought me here today, writing this? Did God somehow set a seal on me for the future? I don’t know. Some church traditions teach that I became a Christian when I was baptized as an infant. So maybe this is the true answer?

When did you become a Christian?

When I was in 7th grade I began to go through confirmation classes. These lasted two years and basically taught us the Bible, taught us about our church and its history and prepared us to become church members. In 8th grade I was confirmed. We wore white robes, we knelt down in front of the church and our minister prayed over us while he laid his hands on our heads. I can remember shaking and feeling like I could cry at the time. I was 13 years old. At the end of the service I was accepted by the congregation as a member. I got a gold ring from my parents to commemorate the event. I even began to receive offering envelopes since I was now officially a member of the church. Is this when I became a Christian? My parents seemed to think so. Years later when I talked to my mom about being “born again” and how I had become a Christian at age 15 my mom’s reply was “But you were already confirmed Paul.” In her mind it was all taken care of then. Maybe it was? I have dismissed my confirmation in the past because it was just a silly church tradition. But was it really unimportant?

More to come…

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