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St John’s United Reformed Church

Ipswich

A Witness

 

Some years ago, before I became a minister, I was driving home from another long day at work. I was in the queue at a set of traffic lights when a speeding motorist flew through a red light, collecting several cars and creating general destruction. As it transpired, no one was seriously hurt, though a few cars where written off and it took some hours to clear the traffic chaos.

One of the dazed victims had been trying to turn for some time on this busy intersection. Her first utterance was, "I didn't do anything! It wasn't my fault!" Another motorist, a witness to the whole proceedings, assured her she was right and said, "The other guy came through on a red light. I saw the whole thing. If it comes to it, I'll testify to that in court."

Now, think about this. They wouldn't be calling that man because he was an expert in car crashes. He wouldn't be offering testimony like, "Based on the skid marks, the car in question was clearly travelling at excessive speeds." All he could say is, "This is what I witnessed." His credibility came from his personal experience.

In the same way, Jesus declared, "When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be my witnesses." I think that all too often we believe we have to be theologically experts or indoctrinated with correct answers before we can be God's witness.

Yes, it is important to reflect on our faith, but that on its own is not all there is. Interestingly, data suggests that the most effective people who talk about their faith are the those who have been Christ followers two years and less. It's not about being super knowledgeable, but it is about having an authentic encounter with God to share.

It seems that at times, we can be more worried about the orthodox and sanctioned Christian beliefs; about saying exactly the right thing at the right time; instead of helping people to relate to one another and to God in non-manufactured ways.

Fred Smith Sr. once stated that he prays a daily thought: "Lord, help me not to duck." He's acknowledging that when opportunities arise in the course of everyday living, those are the times he can show his convictions. That can happen in many ways, in mentioning personal faith if appropriate or in quiet action. There are many opportunities and many ways of being Christ to others. Not as an ‘expert’ who is able to prove the point, but as a person who has been touched by God and bears witness to that.

A witness is firstly a noun – who we are – it is not something we perform.

 David






St John's is a friendly, welcoming Christian church offering worship for all and facilities for the local community.

Search for what you want to know