Passports and Baptism
By Nick Harsh
It was about 2:00a in the lobby of an airport somewhere in India. We had just gotten off of our connection flight from Germany and needed to make it through Indian security. The only problem was that we didn’t have one of the documents required to pass — we didn’t have proof that we were allowed in the country. We were stuck between two countries and had no way of affirming the validity of our identity. It was like a cross between the Tom Hanks movie Terminal and a Bollywood music video. For about an hour we tried getting online to print the needed form, we tried calling people from home to have them send us the documents, and we watched as people from India passed through security with ease. And, why not? They lived there and had a means of proving their identity. Eventually we were able to get the documentation needed, we were questioned and finally allowed to enter the country.
Three weeks later we landed back home in the United States and were greeted with the words, “Welcome home.” The importance of identity was made clear in my mind on that trip. Why was I able to travel in my own country without any issue but had difficulty in another country? It was because my citizenship belongs to the United States and I was able to show that with documentation — a passport. While a passport doesn’t make someone a citizen, it is a tangible way to show their identity. We don’t become citizens when we acquire a passport, but a passport allows a person to visibly verify their citizenship. The same is true of baptism. Bobby Jamieson says, “Baptism is where our faith goes public.”  Baptism is like a “passport” that gets us into church membership — we are baptized into church membership. Baptism doesn’t save a person. Instead, it is where a person’s identity in Jesus is made public. Just like getting a passport is the first step before traveling to other countries, baptism is the first step of obedience to God and membership in a local church.
 Jamieson, Bobby. Going Public: Why Baptism Is Required for Church Membership. B&H Academic, 2015.