By Seth Barnes, Founder of Adventures in Missions
I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. -Acts 26:16
You can only witness to what you have seen of Jesus.
Some of us hide behind the excuse that “my faith is a personal thing”, when in fact, we haven’t seen enough of him to make an impact on us. Growing up, I was anything but bold about my faith. I said I had a personal relationship with Jesus, but frankly, it wasn’t that personal. It was kind of a borrowed relationship with Christ.
I borrowed from my parents, I borrowed from my pastor, and from a few of my friends. So I didn’t have much boldness. I mostly fumbled with words when it came my time to share who Jesus was to me.
On the trip I took to Mexico a while back, that’s how most of the adults were. The rain that was falling all the time and the mud under their feet seemed to bog them down. Instead of praying for boldness, and speaking accordingly, they mumbled borrowed words. Their faith was not personal, it was barely existent.
Still, by trying, by putting themselves on the firing line, they saw great things happen. I walked around with a group of them while the rain beat down on us. We were soaked even under our ponchos. The water underfoot was so deep that our knee-high boots filled up with water.
As we walked from home to home, asking if we could pray with people, a great thing happened. People saw our sincerity and they responded. One woman whose ten year old was little more than a vegetable asked us to pray. A woman whose three year old daughter named Ceclali was deaf and mute asked us to pray.
Eventually, there were fewer of us walking from door to door, but I noticed that people were getting bolder. The last home we visited, we had to walk through what looked like a lake to get to the front door. The lady’s name was Alicia. She had been seeking Jesus, but could not embrace him. Yet, she saw how much we loved her children who had been playing with us in VBS, and she saw how much we cared about her in wading through the water to get to her door.
When I boldly told her that we were offering her the words of eternal life and that today was the day of salvation, I didn’t much look like the little adolescent whose faith was not personal. She accepted Jesus that day, partly because she had sought him so long, and partly because of the boldness of our presentation.
Robert M. McCheyne said, “It is not great talents God blesses so much as a great likeness to Jesus.” To be like him or to share him with others, we must first see him.
Your witness changes as Jesus progressively reveals Himself.
Our testimony is like bread – it must be kept fresh. If allowed to grow old, it’s staleness becomes evident. Our walk with Jesus is a daily ongoing thing. Our testimony or witness of his power in our life should be continually updated as he continues to regenerate us and show new aspects of His character. He has promised to show more of himself as we walk with him.
Charles Spurgeon said, “Men do not drop into the right way by chance; they must choose it, and continue to choose it, or they will soon wander from it.” The point here is that we must continually choose to walk in the right way and to grow in Christ and as we do so, we have a fresh witness. We share with others our own ongoing experience.
People need to hear an immediacy and relevance in our witness. They know what day-old bread looks like. They don’t want crusty stuff, they want reality.
Seth is the executive director of Adventures in Missions , an evangelical missions organization. He lives in Gainesville, GA with his wife Karen. You can visit his blog “Radical Living in a Comfortable World” at sethbarnes.com.