This Sunday, I will bring my fifth child in front of the church for baptism. While my son is the one being baptized, it is my wife, myself, and our church who will be taking vows. We will be promising to raise him in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord. He will be promising nothing. We will promise to set a godly example, pray with and for him, and teach him about God. He will just sit there and hopefully not scream. Yet he will receive a blessing and membership in the community of believers. Some, including myself, have asked the question: Is this fair?
This question of fairness and justice is an important one because it ultimately leads to the fundamental question of who God is. Early in my Christian faith, my unexamined presumption was that I (and every man) was born with an equal ability to choose to believe in Christ or to refuse to believe. God hates sin and will have to send people to hell if they commit the super-sin of making the wrong choice with regard to Christ.
Then God continued His intervention in my life and heart. These presuppositions of mine were challenged by a history professor at Gordon College. He spoke of a God who was completely holy and sovereign over everything, especially over whose heart He decided to change, thereby accepting Christ and being saved from hell. It wasn’t the concept of choosing that was in dispute, but who was doing the choosing.
Over time, a revolution took place in my heart with regard to my understanding of how God relates to me, and my understanding of fairness and justice. To state it bluntly: I have inherited blessing and curse from my human family before me all the way back to Adam. My children will inherit blessing and curse from all who preceded them (including me). God has intervened in my life and given me faith in Christ so that I may inherit eternal life. He has also called me out of the world and set me apart to be a member of a community of people who are his children. Through inheritance and intervention, God has given me all that I have.
As I participate in my son’s baptism, I will rejoice that God has shown me and my family grace and mercy — not fairness and justice. I am thankful for this sign of the way God saves people, by intervening in their lives, making them holy and giving them faith in Jesus Christ.