Target Audience

I have been writing Fresh Start for five and a half years. This one is very different from any other one I have ever written. This post is aimed at a very select target audience: those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I say select because the odds of a non-believer reading seem quite low. But God is in the business of defying long odds, so here we go.

I wrote here last week that I was performing my first three baptisms. If you’re not familiar with adult immersion baptism, it’s common for those about to be baptized to “give testimony;” that is, explain how they came to Christ and why they are being baptized. All three testimonies were mesmerizing. Each woman spoke of extreme hardship in their life. For one, it was an extremely abusive childhood that led to addiction and other problems. For another, it was being robbed, beaten and left for dead by four teens in 2018. In her case, the hardship caused her to drift from God. So much pain, so much suffering and so many tears in the audience. But if you don’t know Christ, you may be shocked to learn that all those tears were tears of joy.

You see, each story had two parts: who each woman was and who each woman now is in Christ. Each story began with tragedy and ended with triumph, just like the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Each woman was celebrating that she put her old life to death and has a new life in Christ. Their lives aren’t free of trouble, but free of the chains of sin. They spoke of how God brought them to the church where they were baptized, that they knew “they are where God wants them to be.”

This is what the symbolism of adult immersion baptism is all about. The person goes down into the water, signifying dying to Christ, surrendering all to Him and rising into a new life with Him. Baptism doesn’t make this happen. It’s a celebration of what God’s Holy Spirit has already made happen in that person’s life.

If you’re still living part one, the hopelessness, despair and pain, we want to talk with you. If somehow, some way, God has gotten you to read this, we want you to know the hurt can stop. God’s love is not like any love you have ever felt. 2 Corinthians 5:17 is real: “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. The old has gone. The new has come!”  If that isn’t you, if you know Christ, I have a humble request of you.

Pray for boldness. The boldness to let those who don’t know Christ know that there is a way out of the pain, the hopelessness. Let them know that no matter what they did, or are doing right now, can separate them from God’s love once they accept it. Live out Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God that brings salvation to all who believe…”

Each woman I baptized still faces difficult challenges. But they do not face them alone. They have God and His church body supporting them. And God plus one is an army that can defeat any foe. If you don’t know Christ and you are reading this, you might be the only non-believer that does. That makes this a personal invitation to you from God. I pray that you listen and say yes soon.

— Pastor Jerry Bader

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