Witness as a Way of Life

  • December 14, 2012

lighthouse-night

Jesus was (and is) the ultimate witness. Remember what he said during dinner at Zaccheus’ home, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). That was our Lord’s way of declaring to everyone present that he was devoted to witness. So were his disciples. On his Resurrection night, he would say to them, “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you” (John 20:21). His “way of life” was now in their hands and hearts.

The task of witness begun by Jesus and carried on by his disciples is now in our hands. The apostle Paul suggests that this task is part of our spiritual DNA. “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). Thus, we stand in a grand and long tradition beginning in the Son of God himself. What a heritage of witness we possess!

To help me make witness a “way of life,” I’ve adopted some of the following practices. The outline for it is simple to remember, for it focuses on three activities habitually practiced: Prayer, Care, and Share, Share, Share.

Prayer

Sometime near the end of my daily devotions, I pray “… And Lord, I’m available to talk about you with anyone you bring my way today.”

Making evangelism a regular priority starts with, and is fueled by, prayer. In prayer we offer ourselves to God for the task of witness. If you are like me, I get so busy I can go through a day or even a week with nary a thought about witness. I also get frightened to witness quite easily (Satan is a master at tempting us to be afraid of witness). So, I must be fully surrendered to Christ to be aware, and in tune with, the “urging” he places in me for witness. The prayer also reminds me that God is the evangelist. He brings people into our life orbit for witness. At its best, witness is simply cooperating with the God as He is already attending to the person brought into our presence.

Care

“Live such good lives among the pagans, that, though they accuse you doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us”(I Peter 2:12).

I need to live my Spirit-filled life among my pre-Christian friends. That means they will see over time a quality of love and living that looks a lot like Jesus. Recently I had opportunity to lead my taxi driver to the Lord. When Jim first came to pick me up, I sensed a person wanting to talk and who looked deeply at the sorrows of life. Over a period of several months, Jim has taken me to the airport at least ten times. After his commitment to Christ we met to talk, at which time he told me that when he is with me he feels a “kind of peace.” I was embarrassed by such a compliment, but after reflection, not surprised. When Christ inhabits us we begin to display his attributes. Our lifestyle of “care” is important in becoming a witness as a way of life.

Share

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6).

The life of witness is mostly about talking. I think it is one part PRAYER, one part CARE, and at least three parts SHARE. If we don’t tell people about Jesus they’ll never know he is the source of our love and lifestyle. Talking about our faith is essential.

SHARE 1 starts spiritual conversation. For many, this is the most difficult part of witnessing. One idea is to follow the 10 minute rule, which means don’t start “God talk” until you have been in conversation with a person for at least 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, a conversation has proceeded from the perfunctory to the personal. It’s no longer about the weather, it’s about life. At this point, ask God to open the door and even give you the words to say. Those words are almost always a question rather than a declaration. It is usually something like, “Bill, do you have any spiritual background or practice?” His answer to a question like that usually moves the conversation toward the things of God, or stops the discussion completely, which is fine. It is, after all, God’s timing and not ours that matters. It may take several short discussions over days, weeks, or even years to bring a loved but lost person to Jesus.

SHARE 2 has to do with story-telling. Jesus always had a story handy and so should we. Stories from our daily Christian journey are best. When we are with believers, we call these praise reports, or “God sightings.” They can be small or large miracles, but when shared with a pre-Christian who is spiritually curious, they are marvelous. Such stories come out of our everyday lives. For instance, when we had a huge 10- inch snowstorm, I sure was glad my friend Dallas was there to help me shovel. I thanked God for Dallas more than once between shovelfuls of snow. How would I share that “God sighting” with Bill? Perhaps like this: “Bill, God sure came to my aid this morning moving all that snow. My friend Dallas came out and gave me two hours of his time. God provides!” When shared in that way with a spiritually curious person, it displays a kind of world-view where we see God in everything. Most pre-Christians have little experience of a God who is present, involved, and caring about anything that concerns us.

SHARE 3 is when we are privileged to tell someone how they can meet Christ personally. You may want to use a booklet, such as Steps to Peace with God because it keeps the gospel content clear and memorable, adding written words and pictures to our verbal witness. You can read it with them, or give them the booklet and set another time in the next few days to discuss it after they’ve had time to read and re-read it. Oh the joy when God allows us to be present when the new birth occurs! There is nothing on earth quite as wonderful.

So, dear friends, claim your heritage and let Jesus make Witness a way of life for you.