One of my favorite theologians, Tom Wright, discusses baptism.
Starting at 3:43 in the video:
“For Paul, [baptism] was a complete change of identity. We in the West – particularly my tradition where we’ve had indiscriminate infant baptism in parts of the UK for a very long time – it’s very difficult to talk about baptism with the same sort of meaning as it has in say … go to a country like Pakistan today. If somebody gets baptized everybody knows what’s going on – you are leaving this community, you are joining this [other] community.
It really is a death to that whole identity and the structures and the networks and all the rest of it, and it’s a ‘coming alive’ to this new one – which is very scary – and in many countries and many traditions today if somebody gets baptized they may not live very long. It’s a dangerous thing to do.
It’s interesting that sometimes people of other faiths recognize the huge importance of baptism better than we Christians recognize it ourselves.”
-N. T. Wright