“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit . . . .” (Matthew 28:19).
It was another gorgeous weekend in San Diego as I followed my husband to “work” on Saturday, August 16, to De Anza Cove in Mission Bay. I hedge when I say “work” because it was really more of a privilege and honor than actual work, but I digress. He serves as a Christian counselor for Genesis Recovery, a faith-based treatment center that helps men recovering from substance abuse. The daily blessing of being used by God to transform lives is only part of the joy of his job. On Saturday, Genesis held its first baptism for not only the residents, but members of the Rock Recovery community.
To be perfectly honest, I went with my husband (and baby girl and sister-in-law who was visiting) to simply get some sun. And, in a last minute decision, I grabbed my camera, as I thought I may want to take pictures of my family before we regretfully had to take my sister-in-law to the airport. But, this last minute decision paid off…
As my friend and President of Genesis, Tommy Hathorn, opened with a simple but clear message to the group, I quickly ran and grabbed my camera. Squeezing myself between openings of bodies huddled together, I snapped away as Tommy first read Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit . . . .” and then read Romans 6: 1-7:
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
While my mind was half focused on capturing images, I had to pause at Tommy’s words when he emphasized to this recovery community that they “do not need to be a slave to sin anymore!” What a breath of fresh air that had to be for someone (or many) listening. I accepted Christ when I was 6 years old, and I grew up in a Christian home, so hearing these words can unfortunately go in one ear and out the other at times. But, since marrying my husband and having the privilege to get to know many members of the recovery community, my heart is much more sensitive to the impact that not only these words, but the truths in the entire Bible, have upon those whose lives are in turmoil and who are desperately seeking something, anything, different. This is why Jesus died after all, isn’t it? And it is in His rising again that we have such amazing hope for a different life. Jesus provided the template; He was our model and that is something to never be desensitized to.
Tommy made it very clear that baptism was for the believer because it is not an act that “saves you,” rather it is the manifestation that frankly you get it, that you accept what Christ has done for you, and that you are choosing to live a new life in Him! So, for those in the crowd who had not yet made the decision to accept Christ, they had their chance right there, and MANY took it.
As I watched chiseled arms bearing tattoos rise in the air my own heart lept for joy.
Jesus was clear – “Therefore GO and make disciples of ALL nations” – how?? By “baptizing them ….” So, after hands went in the air to accept Christ, these men and women made a public decision to live anew with Christ as their head. Then, Tommy, my husband Carl and another employee Frank went into the water and invited all those desiring to get baptized to follow suit.
One by one hard exteriors walked into the water, and went under “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit . . .”, and what emerged were softened hearts washed in the newness of Christ.
It was an awesome sight. Thank you JESUS!