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The Plunge



Spiritual Training Cycle: Examination (wk. 1/13)

 

Cold plunges have become a very popular activity in the fitness and physical therapy worlds; the ‘coolest’ new health craze (yay dad pun!). The type of people who have jumped on this bandwagon love a good cold plunge and won’t stop talking about them. On the other hand, the people who aren’t a fan of the plunge really don’t understand the motivations behind those that do. This type of person may have tried it out once or twice and didn’t experience the same awe and wonder as the “cold plunge bros.” They dunked under the water and came back out completely unchanged; except freezing cold, of course. On the flip side, the “chilly dippers”, have a completely different experience. They come out of the water and appear electrified! Something about their internal experience is obviously different from the others, as evidenced by their external response. The physical act of dunking under the water isn’t necessarily what accounts for this difference in response. It’s the mental reasons WHY they’re performing the act that matter.

 

For those individuals who are genuinely seeking positive change, they are entering the water believing there will be something better or greater for them on the other side physically. We can think about the spiritual act of baptism in much the same way. The mental and emotional decision to make a life change occurs long before we step into the water to be publicly baptized. We come to the belief that real and lasting spiritual change can only occur when we’re in direct relationship with Jesus. Our hearts are no longer emotionally connected to the things of this world because we desire greater purpose in Christ. The decision to be dunked under water represents death to our old life and the act of rising back up out of the water represents being resurrected into new life. Our genuine love for Christ is the reason WHY we choose to perform this act.

 

In the book of Acts, after Jesus’ crucifixion, we read a speech the apostle Peter gave in front of a crowd of mostly Jews. They were coming to understand that Jesus really was who He said He was. That the man they crucified on the cross, Jesus Christ, really was resurrected from the dead and that He is both their Lord and Messiah. Acts 2:37-38 says:

 

“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’

 

And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

 

This phrase Peter uses, “cut to the heart,” indicates an experience of extreme anguish as the Jews realize what it meant for Jesus to be crucified. They could have chosen to move on with their lives and operate no differently in response to Peter’s speech. But after coming to a genuine understanding of who Jesus was, they could no longer remain the same and felt compelled to act in some way. Peter tells them exactly how they can move forward and physically demonstrate their spiritual belief. Baptism becomes the observable outward behavior that expresses their inner heart posture, as well as their understanding of Jesus’ position as Lord and Messiah.

 

For the cold plunger who only sees cold water and doesn’t understand the purpose behind it, all they will experience is the cold water. But for the person who views the cold water as an opportunity for ‘new life,’ there is a feeling of excitement and anticipation. This same type of person enters the water to be baptized because they have seen a glimpse of what Jesus can offer them in new spiritual beginnings. When we’ve accepted Jesus in our hearts as Savior, we know the next call to action is baptism. AND WE CAN’T STOP TALKING ABOUT IT! We follow through with the physical act of a dunk underwater, already prepared for the goodness we trust we’ll experience in a new life with Jesus. We come out of that water (warm, cold, hot, freezing, whatever) with a joy that we cannot keep to ourselves, and we experience real change.

 

Questions for Reflection:

If you’ve been baptized, what was that experience like for you?

 

If your baptism happened a long time ago, have your expressions of love for Jesus changed in any way?

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