I received a piece of beautiful news today upon hearing that a cousin of mine has put on the name of Christ in baptism. As this has happened a mere few days after the wedding of my best friend, several thoughts have come to mind concerning baptism and union.
I wish to start by saying that this is NOT intended to be a discussion of whether baptism is "necessary for salvation", for such seems to be the only way to discuss baptism in my church tradition. Moving on.
When I was at the wise, old age of eleven or twelve, I decided to be baptized. I can guarantee that I was not ready for it. I feel pretty confident in saying that I did it because I was at church camp and it felt like the thing to do. This more or less sums up my baptismal motives. Did it count? I am unwilling to say that God's power had been hindered by my intentions as a preteen to bring about (or begin to bring about) redemption in me.
Later, at the wise, old age of twenty-one, I took a course in Church History and learned a thing or two about catechism. Apparently, early Christians took somewhere in the neighborhood of three years of training in order to become followers (μαθηται) of Christ, which is currently known in the Catholic tradition as catechism. In fact, I have a friend who is currently going through Roman Catholic catechism. All that to say, I wish I had been told to wait, to go into training for six months or three years or however long it took; I feel I would have been better for it.
In light of the recent wedding, it seems to me that baptism and being married have a lot in common. There exist good, solid marriages which started with very short relationships between the man and woman. My future parents-in-law are such an example, and their marriage is worthy of mention. These, however, are few and far between. It is more often the case that a couple marries on a whim, and the marriage melts faster than a snowman on the sun. Those relationships that are most meaningful and long lasting are those built upon much time and work.
The relationship between God and man seems to me to be of a similar nature. It is no small commitment to enter into relationship with the Almighty; it is a rather serious thing indeed. I "gave myself to God" almost ten years ago on a whim, and I would not say my commitment to God has been exceptional or exemplary of what a Christian should look like: I am rather selfish and arrogant, among other things.
The union of man and woman is as that of God and human: neither should be taken lightly. Let us then consider the kind of union to which we have or have not committed ourselves, and let us allow God to ever work in us to bring about a good work and a new thing.
Grace and peace.
P.S.: I have the intention to soon read Rob Bell's Sex God, which explores the relationship(s) between sexuality and spirituality. If any of you have read this, give me your opinion.