One of my favorite times at church is when we celebrate baptisms. It’s always been that way… well, at least ever since I was baptized. I love hearing how Christ has been at work in others, and celebrating with their redemption and commitment to follow Christ with them.
Every story is unique, at least in some sense, because every person telling it is unique. My story is not like yours, nor is yours like mine. Even Emily’s and my stories are not exactly identical. Despite us going through the same experiences, there are points at which our stories are very different. Those differences should always be praised, for if we all had exactly the same experience I’m not sure the good news would seem quite as good.
Nevertheless, whenever we consider our stories–whenever we consider any story from any period of time—there’s always one thing they have in common:[1. aside from “And Jesus saved me”.] “We esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3).
Think about it: no matter your background, there was a time when this was true for you, just as it was true for me. There was a time in your life, whether you remember it or not, when you did not esteem Christ. When you did not value him. When you did not love or honor him. And I don’t like that because it means it’s also true for my kids, too. I don’t like the fact that I can’t “make” them be genuine Christians. That it is entirely possible that Emily and I could see one or all of them never truly come to faith. And that’s not something I like thinking about at all. I desperately want them to be people who never “esteemed him not”.
But it’s not possible. For as Spurgeon put it so well, “Whether we review the ‘noble army of martyrs,’ ‘the goodly fellowship of the prophets,’ ‘the glorious company of the apostles,’ or ‘the holy Church throughout all the world,’ we shall not discover a single lover of the adorable Redeemer who will not join the general confession, ‘We esteemed him not.'”[2. The Saint and His Savior, 11.]
Strange as it sounds, even though I don’t like it, there’s some comfort I can take in this. If Christ could turn Saul the persecutor into Paul the church planter, there’s no reason to lose hope. If he could turn a monk into an instrument of reformation. If he could take a guy like me, who grew up mocking him, and turn me into an instrument for his purposes, he can save my kids, too. “We esteemed him not” is a reality, but not a barrier. And that is good news indeed.