“For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:37)
I am more convinced than ever that nothing is as important as making Jesus Christ the center of our personal conversation and presence. Life is short, and opportunities to witness to the truth rapidly pass us by. Jesus is the truth that everyone everywhere at all times must know to inherit eternal life. There are a host of methods and approaches to this end, but unless it is uppermost in our hearts and minds our lives will be unfocused and ineffective.
This takes intention, prayer, frequent missteps and failure, and complete abandonment to God.
Christian witness is the great dividing line between those who merely “believe” and those who truly “follow.” A non-witnessing faith is a self-centered, merely spiritual, merely cause-oriented religion. Churches are full of this light half-belief. Christians must be involved in many things: politics, the pursuit of justice, worldview formation, art, and social transformation, to name just a few. But none of these is a substitute for evangelism.
Until you open your mouth with the intention of witnessing to the claim of Jesus on the lives and destinies of your friends and coworkers, you are merely playing at Christianity. When you attempt to present the gospel of Jesus briefly, coherently, and compellingly, it will forever change your social habits and your sense of who you are. It will awaken intellectual, spiritual and volitional powers you never knew you had. It will remake you and the world you live in.
I’m talking here about life lived with the big kids, best pursued with friends who share this passion. Try it alone and you’ll be eaten alive. The secular world is much smarter than you, and way cooler. It’s always easier, much easier, to go with the flow, to identify with the cultural standards of the time, to lose your identity in the music, entertainment, pastimes and fashions of the day. That’s why most Christians go that route, and why the world is going to hell, both literally and figuratively.
Mark yourself off in one critical dimension from those around you and you’ll see your former friends drop away, or, worse, turn against you. Some, however, will join you. And that’s what it’s all about. Most of the millions who self-identify as Christian will never in their lifetime influence another contemporary to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord because most have never made witness to the Truth central to who they are.
Keeping your head down, staying out of controversy, being nice, not swearing much, avoiding the raunchiest cultural behavior, being cool, praying occasionally, and going to church once in a while (even leading a study group) are all good, but they are not what you have really been called to do. They are the minimum, and often unbelievers do these things better than you.
Face it, you already do these things and you’re still miserable, haunted by the sense that something isn’t right, and fogged in with your own problems. Right?
Step out from the ordinary, speak up for Jesus to someone on your chicken list, fall flat on your face, and cry out to Him to help you. Get out of yourself, get into Him, and matter for once in your life.
There’s scarcely a problem or issue in your life that will not begin to make sense once you tell someone about Jesus. That’s because you are guaranteed to fail, and that failure will bring you down to the level where He can begin to form you into His image.
There are a multitude of worthy activities for each of us to seek out. But here’s the question: do those activities and passions flow from a faith that is already sharing Jesus with your neighbor, or are they substitutes for direct witness?
I see a great deal of loving and caring today in the name of this or that, but I don’t see much witnessing to the truth. For that reason I doubt that our loving and caring will lead to all that much. Harsh, I suppose, but then look at what’s happening around us. That’s what I’d call really harsh. Harsh is people never knowing the Light of the World when you’re standing right next to them.
Today’s secular world is not a pit of despair and destruction because too many Christians are verbally telling too many unbelievers about the Lord and Savior of the universe. It is just the opposite: the world inevitably slides into moral and spiritual ruin as more Christians remain silent about their faith.