April 10, 2013

Baptism Profile: Jon

Name: Jon
Hometown: Santa Barbara, CA
Vocation: Lawyer stuff
Favorite Ice Cream: Colombo frozen yogurt

1. Tell us how your story started
I grew up in New York and spent most of my life in the Northeast. I practiced corporate law in New York for several years before leaving to do human rights work with United Nations agencies. After traveling around the world for a couple of years I realized that I needed to stop moving around so much and put down some roots. So I moved to Austin at the end of 2011.

2. Tell us about how your story intersected with Jesus’ story
I grew up in an evangelical Christian home and I believed what the Bible says about Jesus from an early age. I have been on the journey of following Jesus since then. In recent years my constant travel contributed to some lows as well as some highs. Lows: when I felt how disconnected I often was from other people, out on my own in the world. Highs: when I met Christians from other countries, languages and cultures, and was encouraged by their faith.

One of my ongoing struggles is to fully understand what it means to love God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength and with all my mind. I’m a lawyer, so I suppose it is fitting that it was an expert in the law who brought this up in conversation with Jesus. This was the conversation in which Jesus related the parable of the Good Samaritan. All my heart and all my mind: I struggle with the wholeness, the integrity of purpose that this requires. I am the product of a particular Christian subculture (late 20th century American evangelical faith) that often emphasizes feeling over thinking. I am also the product of a fancy school that tends to emphasize thinking instead of feeling. So I often struggle to integrate faith and intellect, but I am grateful for many role models who have helped to show that it can be done.

As for the highs of my journey: growth through the hard times has been a common theme. Many of my seasons of growth have come through the encouragement and inspiration of community. I think of the groups in college and graduate school and New York who kept me going, kept me believing that the Bible was not just an irrelevant collection of old stories.

3. What does resurrection mean to you day to day?
Resurrection means the old has gone, and the new has come and is coming. It means strength for today and hope for tomorrow. It means the death of death.

4. What has been difficult in your journey?
Allowing God to work the staggering fact of the resurrection into my heart and into my mind: going from cognitive awareness to transformative knowing.

5. What’s one word to describe your decision to be baptized and why?
Timing. I’ve postponed baptism for many years because I wanted it to happen at a point in my life when it would be truly meaningful. I’m part of the community at Vox, and unlike in larger church settings in the past or in places where I’ve only been passing through, this really seems like the right time and place.

[Photo by lainers @ Flickr]

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