Given that I have obviously identified myself with Christ for the last several years without water baptism (aside from as an infant), is it something that I should pursue?
Yes, most certainly yes. Baptism is always the first act of obedience by a Christian. Often times by neglect, our preachers, ministers, and others who witness, fail to mention this critical requirement for new believers. Baptism is not part of salvation, for we are saved by faith and faith alone, however, baptism is the very first command of our new Master Jesus Christ. Your case is very typical, in that you have been saved for some time, but yet have not followed the Lord's first command. But the passage of time does not negate the very clear command of our Lord Jesus. By all means be baptized, by immersion, at the next available opportunity. I believe that you will see a significant boost in your Christian life because of this act of obedience. Be sure when you are baptized to give testimony not only of Christ, but of your own grief in not being obedient to His command, to be baptized right after salvation, as this will help others who have also been mistaught.
The reason that this decision is so difficult for me is because my father is still very much attached to the Catholic Church and would take great offense to me receiving baptism at this point in my life.
"Jesus said, Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." [Luke 12:51-53]
The gospel divides families. I too came from an all-Catholic family, and my parents were highly offended at my profession of Christ, but I must obey Christ and not man, and leave their souls in His hands. To not obey Christ, just to please your father, would be a message loud and clear to him that your new faith and Master is not that important.
Also, Jesus said, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters - yes, even his own life - he cannot be my disciple." [Luke 14:26]
This "hatred" means that when given the choice on who to obey, then you must choose Christ. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command."
[John 14:15] The opposite of love is hate, so by willfully not obeying a command of Christ we in effect hate Him, likewise, in your case, to disobey the implied command of your father (not to be baptized) is a type of hatred towards him, yet Christ says if you are not willing to "hate" your father for Christ's sake then you cannot be His disciple.
Is this baptism thing a blanket statement for all, regardless of
circumstance? Or is it a somewhat gray area that will not be judged in the big
picture. When I get to heaven will God say "Shame on you, for not doing
what I told you clearly!"
To disobey Christ in Baptism is a sin, much like any other sin, which were
all forgiven at Calvary. However, as we live out our Christian life, and
we actually commit the sins that "were already" forgiven at the cross,
then we are commanded to confess them (1 John). Failure to confess sin
will in time, bring the discipline of the Lord in this life, and affect our
Christian growth. Unconfessed sin also prevents many blessings that Christ
has for us.
But if you died without ever being baptized, you will never hear it mentioned in Heaven, for all your sins have been paid for by Christ. But why suffer the consequences of unconfessed sin in this life. And even more importantly, how could you ignore the command of your Master?
Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Tony Capoccia's Questions and Answers" by:
Bible Bulletin Board
Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
Websites: www.biblebb.com and www.gospelgems.com
Online since 1986