After joining the church it was a course of total involvement. It might be better stated that a course was set for me. I don’t think I really thought about doing this or that. It would be more accurate to say that I was a compelled man. It was sort of like breathing. Laboring in the context of a local church was not something that I spent a lot of time thinking about as far as should I do it or not. It was more instinctive now.
What I did think about was what are the things I should be doing. Doing was a natural, unaided response to the gospel. Finding my niche, working out my salvation and/or using my peculiar gift-mix seemed a normal response. How has God gifted me? What was he calling me to do? What would be my life trajectory? I had no goals, ideas or particular interest in doing anything. I think my thing was merely to be available. I kept my ears to the ground, listened to every word spoken, watched my friends for clues and begin to conform to those who were a bit further down the path than me. I was a learner. This mindset was not something I had to actively talk myself into. I was a new Christian and a Christian thinks, speaks and acts a certain way. There was something in me that was pushing me down the “Christian track”. I suppose this is one of the evidences of being a believer. Christians do certain things or possess certain things; not because it is a learned behavior, but because God is actively working in you to compel you toward something. I was being borne along by the Spirit of God, I suppose.
For example, I remember hearing my new pastor, Gerald Medlin, make mention of baptism. I don’t remember if this was through a sermon or a passing comment to another person in the church. I do remember that I needed to be baptized however. It was a fearful thought. I was thinking that I had not been baptized and if I don’t get baptized I would go to hell. Needless to say I had not thought through the doctrine of salvation. I didn’t know there was a doctrine of salvation. I never heard the word doctrine for that matter.
I thought about the baptism thing a lot for a few days. Was I a believer? Did I need to get baptized? What would it mean if I died before being baptized? Would I go to hell? Was I walking in disobedience? It wasn’t long before I sheepishly went to Gerald and asked him about it. I don’t remember what he said in response, except to say he relieved my fears. He said I could get baptized and I didn’t have to worry about it altering my salvation if I had not been baptized. This was a post-salvation act of obedience that didn’t change the fact I had been born again. It was a dreaded conversation to have, but fortunately he was a patient man.