“You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:48) These are the words of Jesus to the disciples after appearing to them following his resurrection. After showing them his hands and feet, eating a piece of broiled fish and demonstrating that he was indeed physically alive, he opened their minds to understand all that was written about him in the Scriptures. He then instructed them to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins in his name.
While very few of us will ever be preachers, we can still be a witness to Jesus in how we conduct ourselves and live our lives. Sometimes we may have an opportunity to witness with words, but most of the time we demonstrate our belief and faith in Jesus with our conduct – treating people with respect and kindness, being honest and acting with integrity, and being open to care for others as the need arises.
In fact, if our witness is comprised of only words before we establish our standing or credibility with our conduct, the words may have little effect and even accomplish the opposite of our intended purpose.
We once had an administrative assistant in the legal department of the company where I worked who liked to talk a lot about Jesus and her church. While she may have thought she was being a witness for Jesus, her job performance in assisting three attorneys with their administrative needs was lacking. When I attempted to review her performance with her and mentioned that she was not serving her assigned attorneys well, she interrupted me to declare, “I serve no one but God.” Because of her poor performance, we eventually had to terminate her employment. The irony was that contrary to her declaration, she was not serving God well either.
There are times, however, when Jesus expects us to witness to his presence in our lives, particularly with family and friends with whom we have an established relationship. They should know that our Christian faith is important to us and that we strive to live by that faith.
After experiencing the presence of Jesus in a renewed way, I shared my experience with a colleague I had worked with for several years. He in turn shared it with one of our senior executives who I knew but would not likely have ever had the opportunity to share directly with him. As a result my witness was able to go beyond what I was able to do myself. God loves to multiply our witness.
A few years later this same colleague was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. He called me one day and asked if I would come to his office because he had something he wanted to tell me. He was very distraught and worried not only about his cancer, but also about his family and how he was feeling guilty because he had let his work take too much of his time away from his wife and two daughters. We talked. I listened, and offered to pray with him. We prayed that God would bless him with a special peace and give him an opportunity to draw closer to his wife and daughters during his time remaining. He died a few months later.
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)