It’s so exciting to see friends and family here, thank you all for turning up and thank you Eden for what a support you’ve been to me this year!
This is a special moment for me because I have waited a while to find a place where I can mark this occasion amongst such people as you, finding a church to be involved in. Tonight I want to mark my commitment to God in front of many of the people that I care about, as a testimony of God’s all-surpassing commitment to me.
But let me briefly explain how I have reached this point of my life. As many of you will know, I spent my formative years (from ages 7 to 16) in Kenya where my parents were working, the nature of their work being Christian development work in Sudan - and so from a young age I was exposed to the teachings (through my parents) of God as an eternal all-powerful being, in contrast to my natural imperfection - yet God’s love for me and my forgiveness through Jesus. However, subconsciously this meant that I was very dependant on my family for my faith, as it was something I associated with the home.
Although I knew the ‘Christian story’, one Summer holiday in the UK when I was about 13 on a Christian Activity Camp I was struck by the realisation that this person was real and the pain was real. Jesus - the very incarnation of God - became to me more than a myth. I was shocked as anyone would be that Jesus died for ME. The book of Romans in the bible says “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” It was his love for the world (myself included) that lead to Jesus‘ death and this new knowledge, or old knowledge seen with new eyes, was what inspired my faith and really did help me whenever things were tough in Kenya. I had put my faith in something - someone who would never leave me and loved me more than anyone else. I started to pursue knowing God on my own volition and tried to read the bible and pray. I also started to think through some of the more ’difficult' questions in Secondary school - which was a very non-religious school despite being very multi-ethnic.
However, I fast forward to year 13, now living in England, which is awesome! In my 6th form school I made friends with some quite argumentative people and their critique of Christianity really struck me with a quickly-growing large concern: that I was just a product of my upbringing; that God was just an easy answer to a lot of difficult questions, and that faith may be what Dawkins states as a belief that “does not depend on rational justification”. My response to having my head crammed with doubts was: to cry, a lot; think, a lot; talk to a lot of people, and to do some reading. I suppose the conclusion I reached is obvious in that you are all here tonight, but it’s my reasoning that I wanted to quickly explain.
We all agree that we are never going to be able to put faith in a test tube, or the existence of God under a microscope, but I do think some evidence has been made known;
First an argument put forward by St. Paul found in the bible is that, “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” I do think that this world points to something greater, something rational in an irrational universe - consequently I do believe in the principle of divine order in chaos, and could use science to back up my faith as much as another would try use it to critique it.
Secondly the central pillar to my belief - Jesus Christ. C S Lewis challenges the logical inconsistency that Jesus was a “great moral teacher” while also denying his divinity, it is said that Jesus can only be a “Lunatic, Liar, or Lord”. Jesus' teachings from the bible have had a massive impact on World history and I fully embrace all of them including his theological teachings and claims to be God incarnate.
Deciding that Jesus was more than just a ‘good guy’ is reliant on his resurrection from the dead, as testified to by over 500 eye witnesses, and recorded in the New Testament - for which there is strong academic evidence to the reliability of these accounts.
To my conclusion - I am still searching for answers but I see my faith as an evolution of this evidence along with the confirmation of peace and a personal assurance within that I know God is with me and that I am connected to him through Jesus.
So this evening I want to make a public declaration, that I believe there is more to life than just living, and by being baptised I want to show that going down into the water, and coming up out of it, will mark my commitment to Jesus, his dying on the cross for my sin and my hope of eternal life in his resurrection.