Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
When I was 8 years old, a friend of mine got baptized. Back then, everything we did was a competition. I was four days older than him, taller than him and I could beat him on just about everything. But he beat me in baptism. I was jealous and the first thing I did was a ask the pastor about how do it. A few weeks later, I was baptized. We were tied, all was right with the world.
Sounds silly doesn't it? I got baptized because of a childish competition.
It isn't supposed to be that way, but how often as Christians do we do things out of a competitive spirit? To show others we're better Christians? Have you ever wondered why we actually do what we do? Why do we actually get baptized?
That question is more complicated to answer than it may seem.
Paul describes baptism as joining with Christ in Romans 6, The Message version paints a particularly vivid picture.
Romans 6:3-5 (MSG)
That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means.
When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus;
when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus.
Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father
so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.
Although it is a divisive issue, it's clear in the Bible that baptism is not necessary for salvation. While on the cross next to Jesus, one of the criminals insults Jesus while the other defends him.
Luke 23 : 42-23, ESV
"And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
There was no time for a physical baptism and yet Jesus told the thief he'd be with him after they died.
So if it's not necessary for salvation, why should we do it?
Perhaps the greatest reason we should baptize and be baptized is Christ commanded we do so in the Great Commission.
Matthew 28 : 19-20, ESV
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Another reason is Christ himself was baptized. If the sinless Son of God was baptized as a symbol of His mission, we too should be baptized. Every denomination has a different take on the method and situation of baptism, and though it can be a divisive issue, the Bible isn't clear on what way is the "right" way. Because of that, we should do what we feel the Holy Spirit has personally convicted us to do and not condemn others if they happen to be convicted differently.
As Paul says, "The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves." (Romans 14 : 22 ESV).
What is your baptism story? If you haven't be baptized, I would recommend talking with your pastor to find out more.