It took some time for her to step inside. Three men held her up and gently brought her into the water. Boldly, she proclaimed to all who were watching her, “I am 91 years old. God saved me when I was 90 years old. For 20+ years, I was a practicing Buddhist. After The Lord saved me, I got rid of all my idols.” After a spontaneous round of applause and a few words from the pastor, she was completely immersed in the water.
My eyes welled up with tears when I listened to this woman’s testimony as well as many others who were baptized this past Sunday. Some were young. Some were old. Some were married. Some single. Some were raised in Christian homes but lived double lives. And some were homeless and had no hope for life. Their stories were all different, but they all ended the same way: Jesus saved me! I love being a witness during baptisms and hearing from those who want to make a public proclamation of what Jesus did for them. The diversity of the group that were baptized that Sunday evening was just a small picture of the choir that God is putting together to praise and worship Jesus Christ for all eternity. “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation'” (Revelation 5:9).
In heaven, there will be a group of worshipers from all walks of life, all ages, all cultures, all languages, all people groups. In heaven, there is no discrimination. Here, even Christians are not immune to discriminating minds and judgmental thoughts. We tend to favor what we know, mainly those who are most like us. But, in Christ, all barriers are broken down. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
We are amazed by the account of the criminal on the cross, who hurled insults at Jesus. But in the brief time that he hung on the cross, he repented and, before his death, received the sweet promise from Jesus Himself, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). The story gives us hope, but if that thief walked through your doors during a Sunday worship service, what thoughts would go through your head?
In heaven, there will be former thieves, former idolaters, former adulterers, former drunkards, former liars, former revilers. They have all been washed clean from the filth of the previous world, and they will stand, clothed with the righteousness of Christ. And with one voice, they will sing,
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:13)
(Photo credit: Michael Sarver)