Posts Tagged ‘representing Jesus’

Our topic today is witnessing for Jesus. And our text is Acts 1:8. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses . . . to the end of the earth.” The key phrase for us today is, “you will be my witnesses.”

The word witness (μαρτυς) has a legal background. It refers to “someone who helps establish the truthfulness of a matter by testifying firsthand about what was seen or heard.” (Dale Leschert)

In our passage, it refers specifically to the 12 apostles, who are the official witnesses of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. They are the ones who saw these events and can give authoritative, firsthand testimony about them (Acts 1:21-22).

More broadly, of course, this can apply to any Christian who knows Jesus and has been touched by him. (Paul is also called a “witness” even though he didn’t meet the criteria above. He is a witness in an extended sense to “what you have seen and heard”; the specific revelation Jesus gave to him about the Gentiles – 22:15/20) As Jesus said to the man from whom he cast out a legion of demons, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” – Luke 8:39

We each have something to say, a testimony about who Jesus is and what he has done in our lives. And this testimony helps establish the truthfulness of Jesus and the good news of the gospel to those who see and listen.

I want to share three things this morning on witnessing, and I begin my first point with a question. When was the last time you witnessed to someone? When was the last time you really communicated what you believe to another person? Now this question is often used to challenge people, and even by some to induce guilt. But I am using it to make a different point.

When was the last time you witnessed to someone?? The last time you said or did anything. So perhaps on your way to church with family, or something you said in Sunday school.

My point is that –

1. You are always bearing witness to what you believe about Jesus

We witness every time we speak and act. Everything you say and do at work. Everything you say and do at school. Everything you say and do with friends, neighbors, or new people you meet.

Witnessing has to do with how we are at home with our family, which can be hard, since we tend to hold ourselves to a lower standard at home.  Witnessing has to do with how we drive as others watch (I guess especially if we have Christian bumper stickers); it has to do with how we buy our groceries; how we tip our waitresses and waiters; how we deal with waiting in a line, or when you get poor service at a business.

It certainly has to do with what we say in our texts and Facebook posts. Each of us, if we are online, have a digital witness that we need to attend to. And it is amazing how many Christians have no awareness of this in the things they say and post.

We witness every time we speak and act. The real question is are you a good witness or not? Are you witnessing for Jesus, or some other set of values which is what you truly believe in, and what truly governs your life? Are you just going along with the world, or are you representing Jesus in your words and actions?

2. Witnessing has to do with any aspect of our faith

We sometimes think that witnessing only has to do with the specific activity of inviting someone to believe in Jesus – to invite them to receive the forgiveness of their sins; to receive new life from Jesus. And if you haven’t done this, then you haven’t witnessed.

Well, this simply isn’t true. We are a witness when we say and do things that have to do with any part of our Christian faith. For instance:

  • trusting God in hard times. Others see you speaking of your faith in God, and they see how you act differently than others who don’t have faith, and this is a witness to the truth of Jesus and the gospel.
  • worshipping God. When we worship we proclaim how good God is, and how he answers prayers and takes care of us, this is a witness to all who hear. The psalmist says of worship, “Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” – Psalm 96:2-3. As those who don’t know God (Gentiles/the nations) hear, they will be challenged by the truth of our faith.
  • loving an enemy. Others will see that you aren’t acting or speaking like everyone else, and that you are trying to follow Jesus and that he is indeed changing your life and filling you with love, grace and forgiveness.
  • speaking up for the poor, the weak and the vulnerable. Others will see and hear that you have the heart of Jesus and compassion and a concern for righteousness and justice. This is a witness to a different set of values than what is usual.
  • teaching kids lessons at VBS about God, even if it doesn’t involve specifically inviting them to trust in Jesus.

Yes – for sure – most of us need to be more courageous to also specifically invite people to faith in Jesus ; to encourage them to believe. For instance if others know that you are going through a hard time and that you are trusting God to take care of you, you can also encourage them to put their trust in God with their concerns. And if they are open, tell them how to do this. For sure we need the Spirit to help us in this, and as our verse says, it is the Spirit who helps us as we witness.

But we are also witnesses whenever we speak about or act on any part of our Christian faith.

3. It is our highest calling to be a witness for Jesus

We all have many roles in life. A parent, a boss, a teacher – whatever, we all have been called to do various things. But as Christians the highest role we have in this life is to be a witness for Jesus. And we should understand this and make sure that it has this place in our lives.

We represent Jesus. We are not our own in this world. We bear his name in all that we do. Like Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:20 about himself, we too are “ambassadors for Christ.” So how we interact with others is not just important because we are called to obey God and do what is right. It is also important for the sake of our witness to Jesus.

What I am saying is that our role as a witness should have an effect on how we act in our relationships with others. It will place limits on what we say and do that people who are not representatives of Jesus don’t have to worry about.

We have to understand that we don’t just live for ourselves and our causes; we live for him and for the cause of the kingdom.

So in your role as a boss, when you are dealing with a worker who is rude or lazy, you may be well within your rights to go off on the person, to be impatient, to immediately come down hard. But your role as Christian witness will curb these things so that you can be a representative of Jesus, showing appropriate mercy and the fruit of the Spirit, even while you act to correct the situation.

In your role as a parent you need to discipline your kids and it may be acceptable practice more broadly to yell, or act in anger towards them when they do wrong. But your role as a Christian witness to your children will curb these things so that you can be a representative of Jesus, disciplining them in love and with grace. Embodying Christlikeness as an example to them.

In your role as a worker, when everyone else is working hard to find ways not to work hard or to take advantage of the business, your role as a Christian witness will lead you to work hard as unto the Lord and to be ethical and honest.

We have to have concern for what others see us saying and doing. And we have to be aware of the question, “Am I being a good witness to the truth of Jesus and the good news of the gospel.”

Now I am not saying that we are to simply be people pleasers, who never say or do anything that might upset someone. Paul has some rather bad things to say about this in Galatians 1:10. But I am saying what Paul says in Colossians 4:5, “walk in wisdom toward outsiders.” I am saying, let all your words and actions be truly and fully Christian – whether people like them or not. Because in either case you are being a good witness for our Lord.

What we absolutely don’t want is for our words and deeds to nullify what we profess about the truth of Jesus and the gospel. We don’t want to bear witness to Jesus with our profession of faith, but then have all the rest of what we say and do bear false witness that Jesus is not true and that the gospel in not powerfully transforming.

We want our whole life and all that we say and do to powerfully confirm the testimony we proclaim, that Jesus is alive and that he can save each one who comes to him in faith.

William Higgins

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