Using my gift of sarcasm and love of irony, I came up with a list of 10 reasons why people should not be baptized several years ago. Obviously my hope is that this “Letterman- like” list will actually convince folks of the importance of this. This week I offer reasons 10-6.
Reason 10 – I’m OK just the way I am.
I saw a T shirt one day with a picture of the cross on it and a caption that read: If I’m ok and you’re ok – explain this. The truth is we are not OK which is why Jesus died to make us new. Baptism symbolizes the new birth. (See John 3)
Reason 9– I already had a bath today.
The book of Hebrews tells us that the blood of Christ cleanses us from a guilty conscience. (Hebrews 9:14) In the book of Mark Jesus spoke of the inward pollution of the soul. (Mark 7). Baptism is like a spiritual bath that involves internal cleansing. It is an outward expression of the inward reality.
T.M. Lindsaysays: Baptism signifies that just as washing with water cleanses the body, so God in Christ cleanses the soul from sin by the Holy Spirit and that we are to see in this cleansing not merely pardon but also an actual freeing of the soul from the pollution and power of sin and therefore the beginnings of a new life.
Reason 8– I don’t have to be baptized to have a relationship with God or join the church.
That’s exactly right. And to be married we never have to tell our spouse that we love her/him. We never have to buy gifts for our spouse or plan a special evening out with her/him. We never have to do any of that to fulfill the minimum requirements for marriage. But love for that person causes us to want to do nice things for her/him.
Some churches require believer’s baptism for church membership. Some even require it to receive the Lord's Supper. While I feel strongly about the importance of baptism, requiring it sounds like legalism – not love. I never want to see anybody getting baptized to fulfill a requirement but to respond to love.
Reason 7– Baptism is a ritual, and I don’t like rituals.
Rituals or traditions that are repeated over and over again become void of meaning. Have you ever sat down to dinner as a family; someone has offered thanks for the food, and everyone digs in. Part way through dinner someone asks: Did we pray already? It’s happened to all of us who regularly give thanks for our meals.
The same can happen with the ordinances of The Lord’s Supper and Baptism. Instead of focusing on Christ’s sacrifice and God’s love, we can get so focused on the act that we lose the meaning.
In the Bible circumcision was one of those rituals that had lost some of its meaning. The Apostle Paul spoke of that in Colossians 2:11-12 - In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. The new circumcision is circumcision of the heart and baptism is an expression of that.
Reason 6– Pastor Jim might drop me or hold me under.
I haven’t lost one yet.
Next week, I'll share reasons 5-1. And on Sunday, June 18, I'll be sharing a message about baptism from 2 Kings 5.