The Church, empowered by the Holy Spirit and led by Jesus (the head of the Church), is called to be Christ’s witness in the world. To that end, I would suggest that followers of Jesus, individually and collectively, are called to be, at least, three kinds of witnesses:
- Character Witness – We are called to be Christ’s character witness and, like all character witnesses, we are to share about someone other than ourselves. We are called to share about Christ – who he is, what he is like, what he has done, etc. We have, typically, done a poor job at this. We often err in one of two ways. First, we like to tell bear witness to our own accomplishments and boast in ourselves rather than Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Second, we like to focus our witness on other people’s failure, sin and mistakes rather than bear witness to Christ. Too often, the church is known more for what it is against rather than what it is for.
- Expert Witness – We are called to be expert witnesses, testifying to what God has done in and through our lives. We are called to share the story of God at work in us. We are the experts and we need to bear witness to our family, friends, neighbours and the world. There are two kinds of temptations in being an expert witness: Perjury (testifying to something that hasn’t happened – bearing false witness) and Hearsay (testifying to something that happened to someone else). We are called to authenticity in our lives and bear witness accordingly. We do not have to be afraid of honesty. The church needs a more honest witness. Sometimes the story of longing, suffering, and pain is the very witness we are called to bring. The church needs more honest expert witnesses.
- Eyewitness – We are called to bear witness to what God is doing all around us. Leonard Sweet talks about this in his book Nudge, arguing that evangelism is less show and tell and more shut-up and listen. Therefore, listen to what God is doing and bear witness to it. Join in to where God has already been working and help people see and act on it. Furthermore, we are called to be eyewitnesses of beauty and truth wherever and whenever they present themselves. We need to have eyes to see and ears to hear beauty and truth in our world and draw people’s attention to it. We love to say that the church is the hands and feet of Jesus, which is true, but she is also his eyes and ears. She should be constantly on the lookout for beauty and truth and bearing witness to it.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to bear witness to the ends of the earth. To GO into all the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:19 & Mark 16:15). Unlike popular belief and practice in North America, the Church is NOT a witness protection agency; rather, it is a witness sending movement, working towards bearing witness to Jesus everywhere.
Jesus is asking: “Can I get a witness?”