“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” –Acts 1:8
As Kenny Loggins sang, “This is it!”
If you boil down all of the ways we can honor God, love God, love mankind and serve mankind, then witnessing is it. If you want to boil down all the ways we can “go therefore,” baptize and teach others, then witnessing is it. Acts 1:8 is part two of the command Jesus gave in Matthew 28. Caring about where others spend eternity is the ultimate sign of love but if we don’t do anything to inspire people to salvation, it’s all empty love. Witnessing is completely necessary, and urgent, if we want to avoid populating Hell. Saving people from that eternity is a Christian’s No. 1 goal.
If that’s not my No. 1 goal, then I need to really question my Christian faith.
Unfortunately, it has not always been my No. 1 goal and I’m challenged in making it my top goal even now. 1 Peter 2:9-10 reads, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” According to Peter, I am to praise God for calling me out of the dark hole I was in and into a wonderful eternal light. I am to extend the same mercy to other unsaved souls as God extended to my once unsaved soul.
For most of my life, my faith has been all about me, all about saving my soul from Hell. I’ve lived most of my life with a huge ego and it caused me to really only care about my own soul and very little at that. When I was 10 years old, I walked down the aisle at the First Baptist Church in West Baden to save my soul. In that lay two problems. First, I though I was saving my soul. Second, I thought I was saving my soul only. So, for the next 26 years or so, I was happy thinking I was going to Heaven and everyone else could just fend for themselves. Well, looking back, I’m not even sure I was going to Heaven.
I hate to think of how many residents I added to the rolls of Hell during that time.
Now to be fair, somewhere in there it became about making sure my wife’s and daughters’ souls were safe from Hell. A little less-selfish. But, I have a royal priesthood to uphold to all believers. I have a calling straight from God himself that should motivate me. I need to witness to the first person I see every day and then go all the way to the ends of the earth doing so if need be. While I have been witnessing to the first people I see (my family), I haven’t been doing much on my way to the ends of the earth. God has commanded me to do more than what I’m doing now. Because I’m not, I’m really uncomfortable.
What I’m most uncomfortable with is me. Life is still too much about me.
So, to equip me to go, baptize and teach, he has given us all the power of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Bible (not just me). Those two work in conjunction with the message that’s going to inspire people, and that’s our testimony. I believe God allows us to suffer to build our character. He uses that character to build our testimony. He will use that testimony to build our witness. It’s our witness that will inspire people to find God! But, we have to use that witness. While I have not ever been left homeless, been physically impaired or faced multiple tragedies (thank God), I have lost my job and been almost completely turned around spiritually. But, now, I stand in the way of my own witness in another way. I’m hesitant to tell my story.
I worry that the story I tell is too much about me and for my glory. I’ve found that the purest forms of joy in life are serving others, leading them to Jesus and then helping disciple them. I get extreme pleasure in successfully performing these tasks. Now, though, I’m afraid I’m doing this for my own pleasure, which is okay but God’s pleasure and populating Heaven should be my No. 1 goals. While I believe in my heart that I am doing it for God, a part of me still likes hearing people give me credit for my few great acts of service and ministering. Encouragement is necessary but it can’t lead to pride.
As a baseball fan, I have taken a great interest in Josh Hamilton’s story. He is an MVP winning outfielder of the Texas Rangers and a recovering alcoholic and drug abuser. He has a truly awe-inspiring story. In his book, Beyond Belief, Hamilton says, “I have been given a platform to tell my story, I pray every night I am a good messenger.” He indicates that Christians are obligated to tell any testimony God gives them. They are gifts from God. Hamilton made me realize that I actually owe it to God to tell any story that might inspire others to come to Jesus.
God gives us all a platform. Are we using it to populate Heaven or populate Hell?