What Is Baptism?
What is baptism?
Baptism has been an important part of following Jesus since even before the church was established. John the Baptist baptized people during his ministry, calling people to repent
Baptism offers us an opportunity to tell the world publicly, “My life has been changed by God, and I am becoming a new creation in Jesus!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Baptism shows our identity as children of God. We all have Next Steps to take in our walk with Jesus. For those who haven’t been baptized, baptism is an important Next Step.
What does baptism mean?
At its core, baptism is about choices. Baptism serves as a marker of two main choices:
- First, baptism is about God’s choice. Baptism is a symbol of the amazing fact that God chooses
US! Baptism affirms that we are children of God and recognizes that God’s grace is fully available to us because God chose to send Jesus as our Savior.
- Second, baptism is about our choice. Baptism is a symbol that we choose GOD! When we decide to be baptized, we are going public with our decision to accept God’s grace and to live our lives for Jesus.
Baptism is an outward, visible symbol of the work God is doing in our heart. Baptism helps us to go public with our decision to follow Jesus.
Who gets baptized?
People are baptized at one of these two times in their lives:
- Some people are baptized as babies. When a family chooses to have a baby baptized, the family is publicly deciding to commit themselves to do all in their power to introduce their child to Jesus and to set the stage for her or him to become a follower of Jesus once they are able to make that decision for themselves.
Deciding to baptize a child is a BIG deal! Baptizing a baby is not just a photo op or an item for a baby book. Baptizing a child means that parents or caregivers are committing to live a life that reflects Jesus so that their child will know Jesus as well. When babies are baptized, the church also commits to helping raise the child in the faith and to helping share Jesus with that child.
Families who choose to have their children baptized are celebrating God’s grace for their child. They are also responding to God’s love for their child by committing to making sure their child knows that they have been chosen by God.
- Some people are baptized as children, students, or adults. A person chooses to be baptized when he or she makes a decision to follow Jesus. Being baptized as a child, student, or adult publicly acknowledges God’s choice to love and save us and our choice to love and follow Jesus.
Deciding to be baptized is a BIG deal! The decision to be baptized is not simply something to check off on our “list of things to do” as a Christian. Instead, deciding to be baptized is a milestone event in our walk with Jesus that serves as a launching pad for us to grow in our faith and share our faith with others.
What happens during baptism?
When someone is baptized, water is used to represent the fact that we are washed clean and made new through our relationship with Jesus, which was made possible by Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Sometimes people are baptized when a pastor places water on their head, and other times, people are baptized by a pastor when they are immersed in a larger area of water like a pool, river, or lake. Either way, the water of baptism represents new life in Jesus and the living water Jesus provides.
Because baptism is primarily about what God does FOR US, we do not re-baptize people. God’s grace and love are not things that have to be “re-done”. However, some people want to re-commit to Jesus or re-experience their baptism as they take their next steps in their walk with Jesus. In those instances, Christians can participate in remembering their baptism, something we will celebrate together this weekend in worship.
Cokesbury is a United Methodist community of believers. There are many types of Christian communities, and some other groups understand baptism a little differently. For all Christians, baptism marks an important moment in a person’s faith story.
There is no “magic” to baptism, but baptism is a powerful moment in the life of a Christian. Baptism is not a requirement for salvation, but baptism is a symbol of the incredible work God does in the world and in our hearts and a symbol of our response to God’s actions and love for us. Similar to how a wedding signifies and celebrates a couple’s commitment to each other, baptism signifies and celebrates God’s commitment to us and our commitment to God.