On Baptism and Not Shooting People in the Head
“I breathe in. The water will wash my wounds clean. I breathe out. My mother submerged me in water when I was a baby, to give me to God. It has been a long time since I thought about God, but I think about him now. It is only natural. I am glad, suddenly, that I shot Eric in the foot instead of the head.”
—Tris in Divergent by Veronica Roth
This Sunday at my church we will start a series on the sacraments of the church, and we’ll be remembering our baptism. It is my hope that thoughts of our baptism will not be too closely aligned with those of Tris.
Divergent is the first book in one of those dystopian future young adult trilogies that fill the bookstore shelves. The character Tris is not a killer–at least not in the first installment, but I’ve often wondered what she means by this statement. After the water makes her think about her baptism and God, is she suddenly glad that she didn’t shoot Eric in the head because she is afraid of God’s punishment? Or is it because she remembers she is a child of God and killing really has no place in that? I like to think it’s the latter.
There are plenty of baptized “non-Christians” wandering around in real life. People who grew up in the faith and even claimed it for themselves, but have fallen away out of apathy, injury or outrage. But the things is, you can’t get un-baptized. You can ignore it, reject it, try to forget about it, but you can’t undo it. You can’t reverse the claim God has on you.
It is always my prayer that people who aren’t even pretending to live in to their baptism will be reminded of it when they need it most. When life seems so dark that light seems an impossibility. When they are faced with a choice of giving in to the darkness or turning toward the light. When nothing is no longer enough to hold on to. I hope they will remember that they belong to God and that realization will be a catalyst for change and transformation.
(I know. It’s a lot to glean from a book-turned-into-a-movie quote.)