Monday, May 5, 2008

Witnesses and/or Witnessing

Have you ever been subpoenaed to testify at a hearing, to be a witness in a trial, or to give an account about something you observed in an accident or some such thing? How did that go for you? Was it a rewarding and/or enlightening experience or would you rather take a beating than do it again? How did you feel or how do you think you would feel if you were called to give your testimony about something?
The disciples wanted to know if this was the time Jesus was going to restore the kingdom to Israel. Did you hear how he responded? He said it wasn’t for them to know the time or the date because the Father has the authority to set those times. He told them they had other work to do; they would be receiving the power of the Holy Spirit and when he came upon them they would be witnesses to all the people in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth about all they had seen and witnessed while Jesus was with them. In others words don’t worry about things they had no control over and get to the work God had prepared them for, the business of testifying to the good news of Jesus Christ to the world.
You know what’s coming next don’t you? We, along with the disciples of Jesus Christ, have also been told to witness to the resurrection of our Lord. We are to testify about what God has done for us and what he can do for our sisters and brothers if they will just believe in him and accept the good news that the kingdom of God is here today. Our sins and their sins have been all been forgiven.
When someone tells us we have to go out and be evangelists for the Lord our toes curl into the concrete and darned near impossible for us to move outside of our comfort zone. We are so afraid of sharing the good news that we would just as soon get a beating than to tell our friends or even our family how much we love God and what he has done and is doing in our lives.
Yet Jesus told the disciples that they were to be witnesses…to the ends of the earth. You know what that means; it means that we also are to be witnesses to the ends of the earth. Someone has to be out there witnessing to what God is doing in the world. Friends, that someone is you and me.
No matter how you cut it, it all boils down to this; we are to be out there telling folks about Jesus. There’s no way to get around it. The words are pretty easy to understand, if the good news is going to get out we have to be the ones to do it. After all if we don’t who will? How else will people hear the good news?
Oh sure, you could leave it all to your pastor. But will he be able to tell it to your friends as well as you could? Actually you are the only one who can tell it in precisely the way God planned for you to do it; in words that only you know how to put together in exactly the right way so that they will understand and believe. Only you can do that, I can’t. My words wouldn’t be as sufficient as yours. It really is up to each of us to do our part to spread the good news.
That means that when we are sent out of these doors today we are sent into the world to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. We are to share the news that he died for our sins and they have all been forgiven, totally. He died but he also rose again from the grave and he ascended into heaven so that the Comforter he promised could come upon us and we would be filled with God’s Spirit.
That, my friends, is good news. So why is it so hard for us to get out there and tell the story? What are we afraid of? God has given us all these wonderful experiences and all we have to do is share them with our family and our friends. After we have let them be our guinea pigs then we will all find it easier to share the message with people we don’t even know yet.
Every one we meet is a child of God. The only way we will know if they know Jesus is to ask them or at the very least invite to come to worship with you some Sunday so they can hear the good news.
We can be witnesses to God’s glory by the example of our lives but at some point we are going to be asked the question about God, Jesus, the Bible and the church and why they are so important to us. And we will want to have an answer ready.
Friends, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be from the heart. The Holy Spirit will provide you with all the right words at the right time, trust him to do what Jesus promised he would do for us.
Children, God loves you and so do I. Amen.

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