Baptism | Johnathan Melvin

Baptism | Johnathan Melvin

April 30, 2023 |

What was life like before you met Jesus?

Before I met Jesus and came into faith, my overall conduct may not have been terribly different but the big difference was my outlook and my concern with anything other than myself and my own needs. Before finding faith, I had little to no concern for others, especially when it conflicted with my own wants or interests. I was willing to put myself above everyone else. I was also pessimistic about life in general. While I would never have characterized myself as a true atheist, I was agnostic and had no real hope for an afterlife.

How did you meet Jesus?

This is the longest part of the whole journey. Ironically, my journey to Christ came mostly through my undergraduate education, which is the exact opposite of most people's experiences in undergrad. In undergrad, I majored in Biochemistry, English, Philosophy, and Ancient Civilizations, all of which played a part in finding Jesus. In Biochemistry when learning about carbohydrate metabolism and all of the steps involved in that process which yield metabolic products which are worthless unless the other steps for carbohydrate metabolism exist, I realized how impossible, or how extremely unlikely and thus essentially impossible, intelligent life without intelligent design was. Up to that point in my life, I accepted the whole narrative of evolution having just happened without divine intervention or direction, and I realized that any creation story without God doesn't make sense. Through my English education, I took a class called The English Bible, where we read parts of the Bible through the lens of literary analysis. While that part of the class was interesting, it was genuinely the first serious exposure to the Gospel I had. Reading through Luke's account of the betrayal of Christ, and Christ's forgiveness while on the Cross moved me to tears, and it was the first time I realized that there was more to the story, and more to Christianity generally, than I had previously thought. Philosophy arguably played the biggest role in my logical shift to faith. I took a graduate-level logic class, and we were talking about logical proofs for the Ontological Argument, including contemporary versions of it. One of the arguments for the necessary existence of God is still unrefuted and is logically sound. While that fact just got a brief mention in class, it radically changed my outlook on faith because it made me realize that belief isn't irrational or illogical. It allowed me to break through that skeptical and rational barrier that had kept me from faith for so long. Finally, in my Ancient Civilizations education, I did a 10-day study abroad in Greece, and being there and seeing some of the original churches and Byzantine artwork profoundly moved me on an emotional level. Out of all of the museums in Greece, I think I probably spent the most time in the Byzantine Art Museum, just admiring the various depictions of Christ and feeling the faith that all of the artists had put into their work and their lives. All of that, along with my fiancée (a lifelong Christian) and her family supporting me and coaching me in faith along the way, ultimately led me to Christ. The final experience was at a particularly low point in the whole process, while I was considering faith and considering conversion to Christianity, I went to a Mass service with one of my friends who knew I was thinking about converting. Being in a beautiful chapel, and physically prostrating myself before God in prayer, and finally giving up my prideful thinking that I was able to do everything in my life on my own, giving up on the idea that I didn't need help, finally led me to break down in tears while praying and I think that was the moment when I finally, fully, accepted Christ into my heart. All of Psalm 116 really speaks to me and my journey to Christ, but especially verses one through six, "I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!” The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me."

After being saved by Jesus, what is your life like now?

Ever since I have found Christ and have been saved, I have been far more joyous and less dour. When things seem bad or hopeless, I am reminded that this life isn't the one that matters and that things will be better. I am also motivated to help people that I wouldn't have helped before. Whether it is giving money to those in need, doing small good deeds such as going around and helping people get their cars unstuck during the winter, or helping people move into their new homes without being prompted. Everything has a new light to it, both in this life and the next. Also, I appreciate my relationships with other people and the small moments in life more because I recognize that everything is part of God's plan and part of God's creation. I also find myself getting angry less often and being more compassionate, even (and especially) towards those that I vehemently disagree with on a variety of things, because I realize that even if they are misguided or hateful, they are still part of God's creation and there is still hope for them to be saved too. So since finding Christ, I have felt happier and more grateful for all of the wonderful things in my life that I realize are the Lord's blessing. While this is probably not a verse everyone would think of, when I think of the promise of eternal life through Christ I think of Galatians 5:13-18 "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." When Paul speaks of being free from the law and instead living in and with the Spirit, it reminds me that we have eternal life because the Spirit is with us and in us at all times. So the blessing of eternal life and being saved shouldn't be a reason to indulge in sin, but rather it is a reason to celebrate and share the Good News with the people in this life and to live a blessed life. But the freedom from the law is a reminder that the chains of this life are not all that there is, and even though the concerns and desires of the present might take up much of our focus from day to day, the Spirit should be that which guides.