Is Baptism Necessary?
Today we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ. For us, Baptism is the sacrament by which one is initiated into the Christian faith. It is the rite of the church that symbolizes the washing away of the old self, behaviors and beliefs, and the beginning of a life in Christ as a new creation. Many of us (including myself) who have taken this crucial step in our journey find that the old self isn’t necessarily washed away like the dirt from our clothes in a washing machine. It’s more like a process by which we learn what behaviors are self-destructive and which ones help us to live into Christ’s baptism, according to God’s Word. The process isn’t perfect nor is it full proof. Some days we find our selves putting on the old self, kind of like putting on dirty clothes, which of course has nothing to do with what is in our heart. It just means that others aren’t able to see the “new” you; the Christ, that God intended people to see. The rite itself is just the beginning. It is the first day we begin to understand the need to separate our selves from the darkness that is in the world. It is in fact a daily process that involves the entire community of faith and not merely a one-time miracle event. It may help to remember something my maternal grandmother once told me. If you wash your underwear out every night you always have a clean pair. Is baptism necessary? For me both figuratively and literally I say unequivocally yes.