Seeing someone baptized is one of the greatest privileges we have as a church. We love seeing someone move from spiritual death to spiritual life in Jesus; we also love seeing people make a public affirmation of their relationship with God, so that we can welcome them fully into our community.
We baptized Cory O'Brien at Soma Downtown a few Sundays ago, and we wanted to share his story with everyone.
While I was thinking about what to put in my “testimony,” my girlfriend Laura csaid, “But Cory, you’ve never done heroin, never cheated, never stolen anything, or done anything crazy." In the world we live in today, it is easy to judge those who have done the things listed above, and a past like that seems to make for a “more powerful testimony;” however, faith in Jesus is the only mandatory step for baptism.
My sins are many and equally bad in God's eyes. I've always been a people pleaser; always trying to do what I thought was right. I missed the message of God for the majority of my life. I also took pride in my ability to be a moral person. I had admirable traits, which included spending large amounts of time investing in my family and friends. Before I came to faith, I viewed God as a figure that would welcome me into heaven because I was liked by so many people (good joke, self!). Although I never did heroin, I’d have ended up in the same place as someone who did.
There is one thing God has shown me: that I am not to judge another person for trying to be their own God, because I once was doing the same. It is my duty to be a disciple and apostle so that they too might find salvation in Jesus.
I came to faith in the fall of 2011, my junior year of college. Getting connected with the religious life team at Franklin College gave me the opportunity to speak about Jesus amidst other college students with similar sins. For the first time, I wasn’t talking about God as a figure I hoped to speak to, but as someone I actually had conversation with. From that point on, I didn’t view God as a figure who limited fun by implementing rules, but as a Father who wants to see me, Cory O'Brien, as an individual who he knows intimately, proclaims his name and lives in abundant joy. I have never wavered in my faith that God is real and that he sent his son to die in my place. I still sin, but I am in constant communication with my Father as to how to do better and grow.
What was life like before Jesus?
Moral living. Extremely selfish. Seeking approval through other people (family and friends).
How did I view God?
As a rule-maker who stopped people from living the life they chose.
How is life after faith?
God is good. It adds meaning to the normalcy of life. It has allowed me to encounter tough aspects of life and have conversations with God, knowing that His solution is good. In addition, my mission-oriented community constantly creates opportunities to grow in faith. I’ve had tough conversations on topics that used to create guilt and shame; but now I trust that the people offering to help me believe in God, and that they aren’t telling me that I’m an awful person. God's community is so large.