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Why baptism is a big deal for you and the church

By: ali stigall

My aunt had always considered herself a mother; she was just waiting for her babies to come. 

When my aunt married my uncle, he already had two children. After the wedding, she found out she would never be able to conceive a child. But their family wasn’t complete just yet. 

Three years ago, through circumstances orchestrated by the Lord and church friends, they learned about a baby who needed a home. And in May 2014, they adopted a little boy named Jonah. 

When Jonah first met the family, he was celebrated with balloons, cupcakes, and enough kisses to make up for lost time. His adoption into our family was a day never forgotten because not only did his life change, ours did as well.

The same thing happens when we are adopted into the family of God. Our lives, and the lives of everyone in the church, are changed forever. 

Baptism Is a Milestone

We celebrate life’s big milestones — birthdays, graduations, marriages, births. These moments mark the end of one season and the start of something new. Like tree markers on a trail, these moments mark where we’ve been and signal where we’re headed. 

In the life of a Christian, baptism is one of those milestones. Baptism celebrates the end of our lives without Jesus and the start of our lives following Jesus. It’s a way of telling the world, “The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). 

In baptism, we publicly declare Jesus as our Lord and savior. Being lowered into the water is a symbol of being united with Jesus in His death. And being raised from the water is a symbol of being united with Jesus in His resurrection, just like Romans 6:5 describes: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

Baptism is an outward expression of an inward change.

Baptism doesn’t save us. It’s a symbol of the salvation that has already happened. The same way a birthday party marks the end of one year and the start of a new one, baptism is an outward expression of an inward change. 

You’re a year older whether or not you have a party, and you’re saved whether or not you get baptized. But marking milestones with others acknowledges the significance of what happened and builds bonds with those we share the moment with. 

Baptism Isn’t Just for You

Baptism is not only for the believer’s benefit; it is also for the church’s benefit. The same love and protection my family feels for Jonah are what we’re called to feel for one another. That’s why baptism is so significant for the church. 

When new believers get baptized, we aren’t just cheering for the miracle. We’re also cheering to let them know we’re happy they are part of our family. That man or woman, teen or child is now our brother or sister in the family of God. And it’s our responsibility to love and teach each new family member — to celebrate with them as they take steps closer to God, to pray for them during troubled times, and to love them like Jesus loves us.

Baptism is adoption into the family of God. And just like we welcomed my cousin Jonah in our family, we welcome and celebrate each new believer in our family in Christ. 

Baptism Builds Others' Faith

Baptism was significant enough to Jesus that He set an example for us and got baptized even though He was sinless. Matthew 3:16-17 says, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’” 

Baptism was also one of the last things Jesus told His followers to do. Jesus’ said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

It takes courage to get baptized, and your courage can be contagious.

It takes courage to get baptized, and your courage can be contagious. What if your obedience in baptism could create a ripple effect that changes generations to come? 

At the end of Acts 2, Peter preaches to a crowd in Jerusalem, encouraging all of them to repent and be baptized. Three thousand people took Peter up on the offer and were baptized that day! As they began to put Jesus first, their obedience to the Holy Spirit and love for one another got people’s attention. The Bible says “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” 

We never know how our obedience can affect those around us. Friends and family members who would otherwise never come to church might just come to see you do something as radical as publicly declare your faith. And fellow believers who have been putting of baptism for years might just take their next step seeing you take yours. 

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