“You may be the only Bible some people ever read.” -William J. Toms
As Christians, it is our duty to witness to others. There are multiple scriptures that repeat this call, perhaps most popular:
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19, 20).
“I tell you the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12).
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
The instructions from these accounts are clear for Jesus’ follows at that time, and Christians today still pick up this torch and spread the Gospel accordingly. The difference is that Jesus’ followers who walked with Him, followed Him, and continued His work after He returned to Heaven also knew Him. They didn’t just know what scripture and prophecy taught. They didn’t know of Him because of His family, His miracles, or His infamous crucifixion. Jesus’ followers knew Him intimately, had embraced Him, washed His feet, dined with Him, shed tears with Him, traveled over grueling miles with Him. It was as easy for them to share the Gospel after Jesus’ death as it is for me to describe my husband or children to a stranger. The love unquenchable, the bond unbreakable, the experience and intimacy unalterable. If something took them away from me, my witness wouldn’t change, but it would take some doing for others to to conceive it.
Imagine the last time you read a book, story, or article; watched a movie or television show; or heard a sermon or testimony that truly moved you. I recently heard a testimony by Lynn Schilling, a Regional Coordinator for Celebrate Recovery, a 12-step ministry for people struggling with “hurts, habits, and hangups.” Lynn’s testimony was moving, her story beautiful and real, her speech eloquent, and her passion hummed in every word she spoke–her passion for God, for Celebrate Recovery, and helping others. She had been an addict, an alcoholic for years, had lost relationships, had endured an abortion, had reached her lowest of lows. I haven’t experienced any of those things. I have been low but nothing like what she endured, nothing like she shared first-hand. So why did it resonate with me? And, why did Lynn Schilling’s account point to Jesus? It wasn’t about Jesus.
A Living Witness
John 14:12 says “I tell you the truth.” There is the rub. We can share Jesus’ story, and it is true. We know this, as Christians, but many don’t. Maybe those who we witness to don’t know Jesus’ message is a real one–that His life and work was good, and His promises are true. To those people we cannot tell Jesus’ story as if we were there. We weren’t. All we can do is share our story, our testimony, our true account of God’s work in our life. That is what the apostles did following Christ’s resurrection and ascension. That is what they did when they penned the scriptures we read even now. That is what brave souls do daily, who travel the globe telling their stories before crowded audiences thirsty for a connection. That is what authors do. That is what witnesses do. When we wholly live as a witness of Christ, our lives aren’t scripted. They’re authentic. They’re true. They’re good. When our witness reflects our broken humanness, an onlooker can see Jesus’ truth in our testimony.