Two Young Men Baptized
by Mike Willis
I recently conducted a meeting in which two young men were baptized on Thursday night prior to the services beginning. It was the highlight of a good meeting. On Friday night when the meeting came to a close, as the father of the two young men came out I said, "This will be a meeting that you will never forget." He agreed and then began to thank me for my part in their baptism. I have long thought that most of those who are baptized in a meeting are baptized because of the work done beforehand by those who influence one's life. Therefore, I minimized the part that I had played and expressed my appreciation for the influence of the mother and dad in the conversion of their sons. He protested saying, "You don't understand what part you played." He then proceeded to relate the following story, which I have supplemented to make it more understandable.
He stated that he came to worship services on the Sunday morning the meeting started with the van loaded with camping gear to take his sons to a Boy Scout camp that afternoon. The father and sons were expecting to be away through Tuesday night. It just so happened that I preached a sermon on Sunday morning entitled "What It Takes To Survive." The gist of the lesson was to make some points about what it takes for a person to survive spiritually. The first point in the lesson is "Commitment." In this point, I develop the idea that one must love the Lord above everything else in the world. Jesus said that this is the greatest commandment: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment" (Matthew 22:37-38). To emphasize this point even further, I quoted and commented on Luke 9:57-62 which reads as follows:
"And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
In emphasizing this text, I point out that Jesus would not accept as a disciple one who put burying his father above his service to Christ, or one who placed telling his friends goodbye above his service to Christ. I emphasized that serving Christ demands a commitment that places loyalty to him above every other thing in the world. Then I made application of this: Commitment to Christ is going to take precedence over watching a TV show, attending school functions, participating in family events, etc. I was totally unaware of this brother's circumstances when I preached the sermon.
Without me or anyone else knowing it, this brother went into the preacher's office between Bible study and worship and called the Boy Scout leader to tell him that he and his sons would not be going on the outing that was scheduled to begin that Sunday afternoon. He related to me that he felt sorry for what his sons were missing all week.
On Sunday afternoon, the congregation conducted a men's training class to develop its younger boys. The two sons participated by leading a song and offering a short invitation — reading the Scriptures related to the plan of salvation. As I watched them speak and knew that these two boys had not yet obeyed the gospel, I thought, "You ought to obey what you just read." On Thursday night they did!
What do you think would have been the result if the father had chosen to take them to Boy Scout camp instead of making the choice to put the gospel meeting and service to Christ above the Boy Scout outing? Do you think we would have baptized them that week? What lesson do you think that this father taught his children about priorities that week?
And, by the way, the young boys related to their father later that week that they were glad that he made the decision to cancel their Boy Scout trip. The attitude these young men displayed tells me something about them. They did not resent their father, pout about his choice all week, or otherwise act rebelliously or disappointed. When I was visiting in their home they were involved in the conversations that were conducted. We expect to hear great things out of these two young men in the future.