What is the first thought that comes to mind when you hear the word…witness: a murder trial, an automobile accident or someone in a long orange robe trying to sell you flowers? For Christians, witness is a word preachers use frequently to make everyone feel guilty. But Jesus says: “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8) But what does it really mean to be a witness? Maybe this story will help:
One of my first jobs after college was selling automobiles at a local dealership. A fellow salesman talked me into visiting a nearby church. So, one Sunday morning, just before time for worship, I took a seat in the back of the sanctuary. Just then, two men I immediately recognized entered through another door directly across from me. “At that moment, I knew there was going to be trouble.”
Both men purchased used cars through me. Both cars had mechanical problems and the dealership I represented did not fix them satisfactorily. Both men left my office upset.
Have you ever wished the floor would open up and swallow you whole? I tried to scrunch my body behind the pew so they couldn’t see me, but it did no good. They both with startled looks, recognized me and started walking my way. Knowing this could be embarrassing; I frantically looked for an exit.
“You’ve got a lot of guts showing up here after what you did!”
No! No! That’s not what they said, but that is what I expected them to say and probably deserved it. Instead they each enthusiastically shook my hand and said: “Larry Davies, what a wonderful surprise. We’re so glad to see you.”
U They offered no judgment or even mentioned what happened to their automobiles.
U They sat and talked to me as if we had been friends for years.
U They enthusiastically talked about their church and how God changed their lives.
U They introduced me to others in the congregation as their friend.
U They involved me in a small group with people my own age.
In just a few short weeks, I felt right at home in a brand new church. All because two people, who should have been angry with me, reached out the hand of friendship and offered the forgiving love of God. Looking back, I realize this was a life-changing moment in my young life and I will always be grateful for their enthusiasm and especially for their loving example of forgiveness. For me… they represented the best possible illustration of what it means to be a witness.
What about you?
U Who were the witnesses who helped you along the way?
U What did they do or say to make a difference in your life?
U How can you learn from their example as you seek to become a witness to others?
You don’t need to go to an airport or a busy street corner. You are already a witness to relatives, coworkers and friends who see you nearly every day. Becoming a witness means a willingness to stop what you are doing and listen to someone who is lonely, confused or hurting. Becoming a witness means a willingness to get involved… not to judge but to offer love as others have done for you.
This is never easy, but real world witnessing often means getting our hands and our hearts a little dirty as we reach out in Godly love to someone who is in need of a friend… not a speech. Your witness can make a difference. It sure worked for me.
Why not start today. Share this story with someone. Who knows! You may find yourself becoming a witness for God. Remember, Jesus never sends us out to witness alone: “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…”
So, what are you waiting for?