The hymn came to an end. That’s my cue, I realize, clutching a printed copy of my testimony. Barefoot, in a swimsuit under a heavy blue robe, I calmly step down into the water in the tub behind the stage at my church. My pastor, after telling the church my name and a few words about baptism, gently pushes me closer to the microphone. Surprisingly, I’m not as anxious as I expected I would be. I had always just seen baptism as “that scary event in the future,” but now that I am actually doing it, I feel a strange sense of peace.
I read my testimony out loud, content to have my eyes glued to the paper rather than the audience, and then I hand my glasses and my testimony to my pastor, who hands them to a lady behind the scenes. He then has me kneel and, as I had been told he would, lifts my hand to my nose to plug it before he carefully begins dunking me in the water. “In the name of the Father…” Splosh! “In the name of the Son…” Splosh! “And the name of the Holy Spirit.” Splosh!
Baptism is a big deal!
That was more than a year and a half ago, yet I’ll never forget it. Getting baptized is huge–it is once in a lifetime! I had already been a Christian for a few years before I got baptized, but baptism symbolizes coming to faith. It is a public way of showing that we are Christians and we are not ashamed of it.
Though the actual event of the baptism is what people think of, a lot happens behind the scenes, too. For me, the baptism process involved a Member’s Meeting at my church bringing up the subject of baptism and my parents talking to me about it later. Then I wrote my testimony, my dad emailed our pastor, and later I got some feedback on my testimony draft. I also met with my pastor to discuss what the Bible says about baptism and the gospel and such, and finally, I learned about the technical stuff (everything from what to wear to plugging my nose).
But why did I do all this in the first place? Well, simply put, because baptism is important. I somewhat knew that before I started the process, but afterward I knew it even better. But why exactly is it important?
1. Baptism is commanded in the Bible.
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. – Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
Though we are saved through faith alone, the true believer desires to obey the Lord, and one way we obey is by being baptized. It is an appeal to God for a good conscience.
Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ… – 1 Peter 3:21 (ESV)
2. Baptism is an expression of faith.
Like I said before, baptism is a public way of showing that we are Christians and not ashamed of it. Though baptism doesn’t save us, it is a symbol of being united with Christ and putting off the old self to put on the new self.
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. – Romans 6:3-4 (ESV)
If you are a believer, why not be baptized? For Christians, there really is no legitimate reason to be not baptized.
Different churches do it differently. There are single dunks and triple dunks. Some have you share your testimony, some just do a few questions, etc, etc. But however you do it, it is a wonderful thing.
A few tips:
Here are a few tips if you decide to get dunked:
- If you haven’t come to faith, come to faith first! You won’t regret it. 😉 Baptism is for true believers, so don’t get baptized if you aren’t a Christian yet.
- Don’t worry about messing up. Your pastor has probably done this a ton before, and he (or some other person) will tell you how it will go. The only hiccup in my baptism was that I tried to stand up when I was supposed to stay kneeling in the water for the prayer afterward. Except for that, I was prepared for all the other details. And this is a happy event, so it is ok if people laugh (especially if you decide to pull off some one-liners in your testimony, like I did). 😉
- Pray a lot beforehand. Thank God for His work in your life and ask for peace when the big day comes.
- Remember it is not all about you. You might be in the spotlight, and people will congratulate you, and maybe even give you flowers, but all the glory goes to God. You are not getting baptized because you are special or brave or good, but because Jesus died for you. Baptisms are also a good opportunity to invite unbelieving friends and family who would not normally come to church.
In the words of Ananias to newly saved Saul, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” (Acts 22:16, ESV)