And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit… (Matthew 28:18-19)
Baptism. Think about it. It’s simple enough that almost anyone anywhere can do it but it’s just weird enough that people balk at it. “You want me to do what? Fully submerge myself in water while being fully clothed?” But Jesus knew exactly what He was doing when He gave us this command to be “baptizers.” A lot of times we are looking to put something very tangible around a very spiritual reality. We are looking for a way to pour concrete around a cloud to capture what it is. We walk an aisle, pray a prayer, attend confirmation, etc… Well, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. In fact, I think Jesus gave us the “concrete” to pour on our spiritual condition when we start following Him; its called Water Baptism. That’s the metaphorical picture we can point to that we express our commitment to Jesus. Baptism doesn’t save us but it is a way to capture the relationship I have with Him and to acknowledge to the world; “I have died to myself and I now live for Christ.” (Gal 2.20)
Many other religions tolerate and even like Jesus. It’s really no problem for some to say, “Yeah, I believe in Jesus.” But once you start talking about baptism the tenor of the discussion completely changes. A line has been drawn in the sand (or water). Baptism is the symbol of being “All In.” And they are not prepared to make that kind of commitment. Interesting that people from other religions would have a clearer view of the symbolism of baptism than a lot of Christians. Do we take Jesus’ command to be a baptizer seriously? Do we see baptism as an optional superfluous ritual or a religious act that is like a ticket to heaven or a command to be obeyed that gives us a tangible symbol of our new identity in Christ?