Ours is a culture that really likes to communicate our allegiances to others!
A couple of examples:
- During the football season, I find it common for people to proudly “wear their colors” whether it be for a professional or college team.
- More and more, people are using the back window of their car, truck or van as a sort of canvas on which to apply a multitude of stickers!
With these stickers we might communicate:
- Which teams we follow
- What brands we buy
- What causes we support
It’s very interesting how we have a desire to let others know of our loyalties as well as our philosophies!
Baptism has some similarities to this idea of expressing our allegiances to those around us.
A few quick bullet points:
- Baptism is a practice that is exclusive to Christianity.
- And it is a central component to Christianity, something that every follower of Jesus is called to participate in.
Most of us know what baptism is, but just in case someone here does not know, allow me to provide a quick definition.
Baptism is the practice of a person, professing to have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, being dipped down into water and the being raised back up out of the water.
Which, on its own may sound sort of strange. We may wonder, what does being dunked in water have anything to do with my Christianity?
Well, in some ways, being baptized is a lot like the sports team jersey we wear, or the stickers we place on the back of our car.
Essentially, baptism is a biblically-prescribed way for us to communicate our allegiance to Jesus!
And when we read through the NT, we find that baptism for this purpose was happening all the time. People were placing their faith in Jesus, and in fairly short order, they responded by being baptized to communicate their new-found relationship with God.
See, in the Bible, salvation and baptism were closely linked.
In NT culture, people who came to Jesus were encouraged to let others know of their faith by being baptized.
Once amazing example is found in Acts 8
In this chapter, Philip (who was one of Jesus’ disciples) has a supernatural encounter with a man from Ethiopia.
But first a little set-up:
- What happened was Philip was spoken to by an angel who gave him specific instructions to head to a certain road that existed between Jerusalem and Gaza.
- This was a place out in the middle of nowhere, which may have caused some people to hesitate, but Philip obeyed the angel and took off.
- When he got there, he found out that God had already planned an encounter for Philip
- There he saw an Ethiopian official who served under the queen of Ethiopia, a woman named Candace.
- This official had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning back home
- As the Ethiopian official was sitting in his chariot, he was reading in the book of Isaiah
- So, the Holy Spirit nudged upon Philip to go and talk to the official.
Now, let’s go to the text and see what happened next:
Acts 8:30-38 (ESV)
So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:
“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.”
And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
I love the Ethiopian official’s sense of urgency!
Within moments of responding in faith to the message of Christ, he wanted to be publicly identified with Christ!
How about us? If we have not been baptized, do we feel the same need to identify ourselves with Jesus and proclaim our allegiance to Him?
And if not, why not?
I don’t think it is a positive that in our culture, baptism is something of little importance, and thus can be pushed down the road…or worse, pushed to the side.
If we claim to love Jesus and want to obey Him, one of the best ways to do so is by saying “Yes!” to baptism.