(watch here: https://youtu.be/6cRx1mlJABs)
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
For you shall go out in joy,
and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall burst into song,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
1 Peter 3:13-17
Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.
Reflecting on the theme of witnessing, I recall the one about a small town prosecuting attorney who called his first witness to the stand in a trial. She was a grandmotherly, elderly woman. The attorney approached her and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?” She responded, “Why, yes, I do know you Mr. Williams. I’ve known you since you were a young boy. And frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you’re a rising big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Oh yes, I know you.” The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Williams, do you know the defense attorney?” She again replied, “Why, yes I do. I’ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster too. I used to baby-sit him for his parents. And he too, has been a real disappointment to me. He’s lazy, bigoted, he has a drinking problem. The man can’t build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the shoddiest in the entire state. Yes, I know him.” At this point, the judge rapped the courtroom to silence and called both counselors to the bench. In a very quiet voice, he said with menace, “If either of you asks her if she knows me, you’ll be jailed for contempt!”
There are good witnesses and then there are not so good witnesses, the ones you wouldn’t dare put up there on the stand. Clearly the prosecuting attorney didn’t do his homework on that elderly woman! Neither he or the defense attorney…or the judge for that matter…appreciated her witness and what she testified to. Does that make her a bad witness though? Was she lying in her testimony? No, she wasn’t lying but she was testifying to things that had no bearing on the case at hand. At the very least, her testimony revealed her eagerness to truthfully and thoroughly answer the questions posed to her, even the ones that didn’t need such a truthful and thorough response. The burden was on the prosecuting attorney to pose only relevant and applicable questions so he was to blame for the breakdown in communication.
Nevertheless, there are good witnesses and there are not so good witnesses. There are those who testify to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth and then there are those who bend the truth or shy away from the truth. It’s important to make this distinction as we reflect on this idea of witnessing. There are some of us who do it well and there are some who do it poorly. Which are you? Believe it or not, there are plenty of truths in this world. God is very much in control of this world and at work in this world and there is plenty of truth in God. Nothing He says or does is a lie. There is nothing but truth in God. And God wants us to know his truth. God regularly reveals his truth to us each and every day. God reveals it and hopes that we live according to it. God reveals truth to us in Scripture. God reveals truth to us in his Son. God reveals truth to us in his created world. God reveals truth to us in love. Yes, God is continuously revealing truth to us each and every day we are a part of this world. And his ultimate truth will be revealed to us when we leave this world and return to our heavenly home. Then we will know the greatest truth! But until then, we get by on little bits and pieces of his truth to keep us healthy, hopeful, and sane. God’s truth is all around us, we must simply seek it out.
Now then, simply being aware of his truth all around us isn’t good enough if we are to be in right relationship with him. No, God wants us to be good witnesses and to testify to his truth. God wants us to testify to how his truth transforms our lives and gives us joy and contentment and peace. God wants us to reveal his truth to others so that they might also be transformed by it. God’s love is for more than just you and me. God’s love is for the whole world! God’s love is to be shared with the whole world! Jesus told his disciples (and us!) to “go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15) as we hear in his Great Commission. His truth is far greater than you and me. His truth is for all of creation!
Just because it hasn’t been fully revealed to us in this world doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Be assured, it will be revealed when we are ready to receive it. In the meantime, testify to what has already been revealed: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17) That, my friends, IS TRUTH!! That, my friends, is what we are called to testify to! Nothing more and nothing less. John wrapped it up in a nice, neat package for us to be shared with the world. How generous is our God?!
There is great joy in such truth. Eternal life…who among us would pass up on that?! Love and salvation…what more can we ask for?! Yes, there is great joy in knowing and having such truth. Jesus said, “in the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) When we testify to his truth, we shine our light before others…our light?…HIS light! His light, his truth, his love, his joy…we’re simply conduits. And don’t be afraid to be a conduit for him! He’ll guide you and protect you, strengthen you and nourish you along the way. Trust me, He’s good to his conduits! Paul writes at the start of his letter to the Romans, “for I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (1:16) We ought not be afraid nor ashamed, his truth is the truth of life.
As we continue along our path through Lent, let us be mindful of being good witnesses. Let us seek out all his many truths, especially in this time of great uncertainty. Know that they all add up to one, singular truth: God loves us! God will not abandon us because He loves us so much! Hold that close to your heart and give thanks…thanks be to God!
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.