Daily Archives: 10th January 2016

Which Would You Prefer?

It’s supposed to be part of the Christian life to ‘share the Good News’ of Jesus. In the Bible passage that Christians refer to as the ‘Great Commission’, found in Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus says “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…”.

The concept of the ‘Christian Witness’ comes from the verse in Acts 1:8, where Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.” The ‘witness’ means the same as it does in a courtroom, where a person might stand up and testify, ‘Yes, your honour, I did see that man steal a car’, or whatever. In the ‘witness’, we essentially testify to the reality of Jesus’s Resurrection and presence, not only in the world today, but also in our lives. We testify as to what God has done for us, and we testify to how much He loves us. We testify that Jesus is alive, and that His Kingdom is at hand. But this happens because the Spirit is working in our lives!

You might have read my previous article, ‘The Ultimate Bad Witness‘, where I have described how some people in the Church get it utterly wrong.

Today, however, I would like to examine how we can perhaps get it right – by asking this sensible question, Which witness would you prefer?

In Jesus’s day, there were plenty of religious people. I don’t know whether their remit was to try to ‘convert’ people back then; it probably was, though, since firstly religions tend to do that, and secondly He referred to the Pharisees, who would “…travel over land and sea to win a single convert…” (Matt 23:15) But, just like today, religious people make very few ‘converts’, whatever they are, because people look upon them with their pious religiosity and their piddling little rules that weigh so much, and say to themselves, “You know what? I want no part of that!” And they are dead right.

Nobody really wants to follow the ‘witness’ of Religion.

What part of ‘being religious’ is attractive? The only thing I can think of is that people have a deep-seated yearning for God, and they think, like countless millions before them, that somehow God can be accessed by following certain rigidly-defined rules, or by not doing certain things, or by being miserable all the time, or whatever. But Jesus came to say, in essence, “Look, you’re doing it all wrong! God loves you! You don’t need to do all this stuff to please Him!”. This is why Jesus gave us only two real commandments: Love God and Love your neighbour as yourself. That’s it. You live a life of love – to God and to your fellow man – and you will be pleasing God. But that’s not what makes you acceptable to Him; you need do nothing more because Jesus has made you acceptable to God – in every way!

And Jesus knows all about the desire that people have to know God, because that’s what they were made for. I think that most people at heart want it to be true that God is good. They want it to be that God loves them. They want it to be that God wants to make a real difference – for good – in their own personal lives. But the god that is depicted by the Bad Witness is not a god that people want to follow, because quite frankly that god is horrible!

No, people want God to be like Jesus – kind, compassionate, gentle, but with the power to heal, forgive and restore.

So, after all that prologue, let’s compare the two witnesses. Would you prefer the witness of the Pharisee, or the witness of Jesus?

Which would you prefer?

The witness of those who put heavy, cumbersome religious loads on others’ shoulders, but do not lift a finger to help (Matt 23:4); or the witness of the One Who told us that we should take His yoke upon us, because His burden is light (Matt 11:28-30)?

Which would you prefer?

The Man Who heals the sick, or the men who complain when the sick are healed (e.g. Mark 3:2)?

Which would you prefer?

To listen to people nowadays who radiate the love, life, presence, power and healing of Jesus; or to those who insist that you must follow their particular rule-set to become acceptable to God, but who do not show the ‘good fruit‘ of the Spirit?

Which would you prefer?

Those who bellow ‘Crucify!’ when the accused is innocent; or the One Who says ‘Father, please forgive them’?

Which would you prefer?

Those whose lives are full of faith, and who show God as being compassionate, merciful and loving; or those who say he is angry, displeased and simply unhappy with humanity in general?

Which would you prefer?

Those whose lives, although full of noise and stuff, are actually powerless; or those who personally know the One Who made the entire Universe?

Which would you prefer?

Those who are fun to be around, interesting, funny, who laugh with you and cry with you, who love you no matter who you are*; or those who are narrow-minded and judgemental, won’t laugh at certain jokes, won’t enjoy life – and won’t let others enjoy it either?

Or, to put that last one more simply, Which would you prefer? – those who make you feel comfortable about approaching God; or those whom you don’t want to hear talking about God because they make you feel that God would turn you away?

Do you see what I am saying here? God is Good. All the time. If we depict Him as Good, then quite simply, more people will be interested in getting to know more about Him. More people will believe in Him. Because the witness will be a Good Witness, and not a Bad Witness. One that represents more fully the bubbling fizzing loving abundant life that is God, that those that find Him can partake of! And in that way, we will fulfil the Great Commission even more effectively!

Which would you prefer?

To ‘convert’ people by engaging in endless moaning and complaining about the way the ‘sinners’ behave, banning this that and the other, making people feel ‘sinful’ and generally being obnoxious; or to ‘be Jesus‘ to others – to show the attractiveness of being the followers and imitators of the One Who said this:

“Here’s how all men will know that you are My disciples: just show your love for one another!” (Jn 13:35)?

Which would you prefer?

I mean, come on! How hard can it be? It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? 🙂

*See my article ‘Salt and Light‘ for more on this idea