The subject of Christian baptism has come up recently amongst family and work colleagues.
Firstly because a colleague of mine was due to attend a baptism of his godson. Knowing that I was a Christian, he asked me about it because he was finding the whole event to be confusing. He’d never heard of an adult getting baptized before, nor of someone getting baptized twice, and wanted to know what it was all about.
Around a month later, my younger sister herself got baptized. There was less confusion for that one.
As a Christian, baptism is something which is familiar because it is written about in the Bible. While different denominations have differing strengths of conviction about the practice, it is clear that it is something Christian’s are called to do. Ideally it is to take place soon after becoming a Christian, although not everyone does it immediately.
To put it simply, baptism is an outward gesture of an internal state of the heart. On becoming a Christian, past sins are forgiven and you are choosing to live your life based on the Biblical teachings of Jesus.
Baptism is an illustration of this. The submerging in water represents being washed clean and starting anew. Nothing physical happens during the brief moment at which you are under water, apart from that you’ll get wet.
There’s also nothing special about the water itself. In the Bible, Baptism generally took place on the banks of the sea. At the church I attend, we hired a local swimming pool and baptisms of a number of people belonging to the church took place there, something which proved another source of bemusement amongst my colleague, who responded with the suggestion that we “must have needed a lot of holy water!”
It can be done wherever there is water. But the most important thing remains the initial decision of the individual in choosing to become a Christian and to follow Christ.