I've been thinking lately about the place of baptism in our salvation. In Romans chapter 6, Paul illustrates why it is essential for salvation; and not just an after-the-fact demonstration of our obedience. The theology in that chapter is thick, and it's not really my point. I've never once had a second thought about the necessity of baptism, nor do I know. Instead, I think at some point some may have mistakenly placed baptism as the goal, intead of a part of the process of reaching the goal.
This was really highlighted for me during my time at Bible camp a few weeks ago. It seems like there is an artificial pressure that we put on ourselves to get as many kids converted as possible during that week. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Actually, I think there would be a lot more Christians walking around if we lived our lives with that self-afflicted pressure all year. But partly because of that pressure I think we have mistakenly placed baptism as the end goal. Baptism isn't the end goal. Faithful followers of Christ is the end goal. Baptism is part of the process that gets to the end goal.
Sometimes I think we get in such a rush to get someone wet, that in the end, all we do is get someone wet. There is no true repentence, there is no true understanding of following Christ, there is no conversion. Think about all the conversion stories in Acts. Luke never once talks about the preaching or teaching being about baptism. It's always about sin, responsibility, Jesus' death and other similar topics. But in the end of the narrative, the person always ends up being baptized. Not because that was preached to them, but because that's the answer to the question, "what do I do now," or something like it.
This problem is especially prevalent with our kids. We push for them to get baptized. Maybe we'd be better off to push for them to be followers of Christ?