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Baptism is Beautiful

Photo of Joel SingletonJoel Singleton | Bio

Joel Singleton

Joel Singleton is the Lead Minister of the San Jose Church of Christ in Jacksonville FL. Joel is married to Alison and they have two children, Truitt and Quinn. Joel has served in full time ministry for the last 14 years and in that time he has written several resources devoted to disciple making and family. His desire first and foremost is for Christians to relearn how to make disciples in the home and in the church.

Baptism is probably the most beautiful thing we will witness this side of heaven.

I’ve been in the church for a long time, and I’ve heard a lot of sermons on baptism. Most of them go something like this: “The Bible says you should get baptized, so get baptized.” This is true, and we need to hear this truth. But sometimes in our exegetical dissections, we can miss the beauty of baptism.

You know what else is beautiful? Weddings.

The church is decorated to be as beautiful as possible. There’s the beauty of the bride. You always want to see the groom’s face when he first sees her. Then, as they hold hands, they repeat beautiful vows of lifelong commitment. There’s the beauty of the ring ceremony, with the ring symbolizing endless love. Then there’s the kiss and the pronouncement, after which the husband and wife smile from ear to ear, walking down the aisle beaming with joy. Aren’t weddings beautiful?

Now, I’ve done a lot of premarital counseling for couples, and then I perform their weddings. And I’ve never once had a couple come up to me and say, “Hey, can we do the premarital counseling, but skip the wedding?” No, it’s always me who tells them, “Yes, I’ll do your wedding, but you’ll have to go through premarital counseling.” Nobody wants to miss out on the wedding!

And yet sometimes people will ask, “Do I really have to get baptized?”

And what I’m wondering is, why would you want to miss out on what God has given us as this beautiful culmination of love and commitment? Since the beginning of time, God has been working to get us back together with Him in loving relationship. Baptism is analogous to the wedding ceremony.

This uniting with Jesus is all-in: for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness or health, till death. It’s immersive. We are baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 2:38). We are baptized “into his death” so that “just as Christ was raised from the dead . . . we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). At baptism, we are united with Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27).

The Greek word from which we get the word baptism literally means “immersion.” We are immersed into the person of Jesus. We are plunged into Him—soaked, bathed in, drenched in Him. In baptism, we are united with Jesus in every possible way.

And it’s beautiful.

When I was a youth minister, I often explained baptism by talking about Peter Pan’s shadow. Peter Pan has a shadow, but instead of mirroring him, the shadow is wild. Instead of casting an image of whom it belongs to, the shadow does its own thing and makes lots of messes. So finally, Peter Pan catches a hold of his shadow in Wendy’s bedroom. And what does he do? He takes thread and sews the shadow back onto his foot. Now, wherever Peter goes, whatever he does, the image that is cast from him will be a reflection of him.

We are united to Jesus, knit together with Him: “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:4-5).

Baptism is probably the most beautiful thing we will witness this side of heaven.

So I guess there are two applications for what I’m saying. First, if you haven’t been baptized, what are you waiting for? As Ananias told the man who would become the Apostle Paul, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). Second, if you have been baptized, please don’t let baptism become just another ritual and routine. Don’t forget the beauty of baptism.