This year, I helped run a baptismal class for some of the young people in my church youth group and last month, we saw 12 of them get baptised!
Baptism is a big decision and an important step in the journey of every Christian. In His final words to his disciples, Jesus made it clear that all those who choose to follow him are to be baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).
Perhaps baptism is something you’ve been thinking about, or you may not know much about its significance at all. Whatever the case, I hope this post gives you some insight into this extraordinary act and also encourages you to think about taking the plunge (literally!) in the new year.
What is baptism and why is it important?
Baptism was actually a practice carried out before the formation of the Christian church we know today. John the Baptist, a prophet who played a really important part in preparing the way for the coming of Jesus Christ the Messiah, baptised people in the Jordan River after they had confessed their sins (Matthew 3:5-6). This process involves individuals being fully submerged in water and then being brought up to the surface again.
John was the man ultimately chosen to baptise Jesus himself, a process which signified the start of the Lord’s ministry here on Earth. Jesus’ baptism, along with all those that took place before him, symbolised a turning away from sin and unrighteousness and the start of a brand-new life in God.
When you become a Christian, you repent before the Lord and ask for forgiveness. Baptism takes things one step further. In this significant act, you’re publicly professing that you’re committing yourself wholly to God and leaving your old life behind. I love the way 1 Peter 3:21 presents this idea:
“…and this water symbolises baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience towards God.”
1 Peter 3:21
When we’re baptised, it’s like we’re saying to God: “I leave the past behind, my conscience is clear and I’m ready to live my life with you by my side every step of the way.”
As well as the spiritual significance of baptism, the physical act itself is also symbolic. Going down in the water and rising back up again is symbolic of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s such a beautiful image and a clear reminder of the sacrifice He paid on the cross for every single one of us.
I waited quite a few years (unnecessarily) before I got baptised as I felt that it had to be done at some divine time when my life was in check and I was living as the perfect Christian. God used a woman I met at youth camp to remind me that as long as I was ready to live out my life for Jesus completely, I should go for it, no questions asked. That’s exactly what I did and I would love for you to do the same!
So, if you love Jesus but you’re worried about whether you’re ready for baptism or not, I have one piece of advice for you, speak to your youth leader or pastor and go for it because there is no such thing as a perfect Christian!