Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”
Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:37)
The other day, I was talking to a police officer and he began explaining the process of how he receives subpoenas and is required to give testimony in trial cases. Even though he has testified many times, he described feeling shaky and nervous on the stand, and it’s easy to understand why. All the attention is focused on the witness, the opposing lawyer is parsing every word, looking for some inconsistency or other way to discredit the testimony, and someone’s fate hangs in the balance. It’s a dramatic and nerve-wracking, but necessary, part of our justice system.
In a very similar way, disciples of Christ are also called to be witnesses. When you read through the gospels, Jesus often makes reference to the fact that one of the primary reasons he created his inner circle of disciples is so they could bear witness to the signs and wonders that he performed. When it was time to replace Judas, the disciples made a point of selecting someone who had been present from the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry and had witnessed the resurrected Jesus. The Holy Spirit was sent to the early church to empower them for witness, and even the manifestation of speaking in tongues was primarily given as a sign to convince unbelievers. Christians who are not giving witness to the truth of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection are not doing their job!
However, when it is our turn to proclaim the gospel, too often we shrink from the opportunity. We worry that we’ll mess it up, say the wrong thing, or look foolish. We worry that we will appear judgmental, lose influence, or friends. There is a lot that can go wrong, and for that reason we are tempted to leave it for the next Christian that comes along. But the stakes are too high to just pass the buck.
Like giving testimony on the stand, when we proclaim our faith we are stepping into the spotlight, and we will undergo intense scrutiny. People will look at the life you lead, the words you speak and the choices you make, to see whether or not you are sincere. Some will attempt to deconstruct your words, hoping to catch you in some inconsistency or make you look ignorant and foolish. But just like in a trial, another person’s fate hangs in the balance and for that reason we cannot remain silent.
Our world is hurting and many of the loudest voices are merely stoking the fires of conflict. People are confused and can’t figure out how to see their way clear of the problems facing them and their families. The need for a people who will proclaim Truth, who will speak Light & Life into the world even at a substantial personal cost, has never been greater.
God has given you a job. He has commissioned you to go, be His witness, and make disciples. Are you up for the challenge?
“For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth…”
PRAYER: Father, the thought of speaking up about our faith can be very intimidating sometimes. Thank you for being patient while we work up the courage to do it, and for sending the Holy Spirit to empower and guide us through the process. Help us to see the urgent need for more of your Truth in the world and to be your bold witness. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen!