Mornings. You know what they’re like. There’s the mad rush to make lunches, pull clean clothes out of the dryer, round up masks, fuss over messy hair, and get the kids safely ensconced on the school bus. I pray them off as I watch them walk to the bus stop, and after they’ve boarded I retreat to the sanctity of a now quiet house. As the coffee brews, I sit on my trusty little step stool and open my Bible to spend a few minutes in Scripture before logging into work. It’s blissful…the eye of the hurricane in some ways. This morning, however, my quiet contemplation was interrupted by the sound of our Newfie frantically barking outside. Worried that he was barreling after some poor unsuspecting neighbor, I dashed out only to find him exactly where he was supposed to be. The commotion was coming from the fact that our Bassett hound was not. He was standing on point a yard over trying to engage a yellow lab further down the street. I called for him to come home, but if you’ve ever seen a Bassett on point, you know it’s a completely useless endeavor. That dog was not coming home until I went and got him. So off I went jogging down the street in the early morning light calling for my stupid dog.
A short while later, he came bounding back to me like it was a happy coincidence we both happened to find ourselves strolling down the same street on such a fine morning. I waved in a “What can you do?” sort of way to the yellow lab’s mom. Then, I looked down at myself. I should mention that, as writer, I have the privilege of working from home. And most days, it looks like it. Today I was in a bright blue t-shirt over lavender gym shorts with ruby red house slippers to round it all out. And there, in the crook of my elbow, was my Bible. Apparently in my rush to chase down my dog I had carried it with me. Anyone looking out their window at that moment would see a fashion backward crazy lady running after a dog in slippers and carrying a Bible. Yikes, I thought. What kind of a witness am I making?
The idea of witnessing has always been a difficult one for me. As Jesus people, I recognize that we are commissioned along with the disciples to be Christ’s witnesses to the world. But what does that look like? Do we have to walk up to complete strangers and ask them if they know Jesus? Do we march into people’s communities and demand that they follow our beliefs? Do we insist to those who follow a different faith that they are wrong and we are right? If so, I’ve failed miserably.
My faith isn’t something I want to force on someone. It’s not a weapon, although it has been weaponized over the centuries in some pretty awful ways. Rather, being a witness means telling someone else how you, personally, have seen God working and moving in your life. Look at how the Psalmist puts it:
This description of witnessing is intimate. It’s a conversation about how you’ve seen God moving through your life. In this way, the act of witnessing becomes an invitation and not a demand. We speak of what we know of God, and the listener can choose what to believe.
But being a witness isn’t simply about words. It is all-encompassing. It’s about how we act, too. In Matthew, Jesus gives this wonderful definition of witness to a man he has just healed.
What a beautiful verse! This makes witnessing so much more approachable to me. Your cleansed and grateful life will bear witness to what I have done. Imagine that for a moment. What does a cleansed and grateful life look like? I think it is one that manifests the fruits of the Spirit. It is a life where love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control flow from us to all of those we encounter. And people can’t help but wonder at the source of it. There is so much power in the witness of a cleansed and grateful life. It is a flame that radiates the warmth of God’s love and draws all those who come near it ever closer.
I’m probably not going to lead many people to Christ running down the street early in the morning carrying a Bible. But I might be able to share something of my walk with Jesus by how I choose to interact with others. If I can get beyond myself enough to let God have more room, then I can live that cleansed and grateful life that bears witness to Jesus. What about you? How are you being a witness for Jesus?
Blessings and Peace