Do you tell others about Christ, as Pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran does? As you go through your day, do you not only reflect Him by your behavior, but also witness of Him with your words to those around you? The sad truth is that, although many of us mean to, not all of us do.
“And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel.” (Ephesians 6:19)
In case there is anyone who might question why must witness, let’s examine what has been called The Great Commission, given by Jesus after His resurrection and before His ascension:
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age…'” (Matthew 28:18-20)
The reason we must tell others about Christ is because He commanded it. Yet although we understand and accept this, many of us still fail woefully to do so. Why is this? The reason many of us do not witness Christ to a fallen world is because our faith is not strong enough. Let me explain.
Witnessing Christ involves two progressively difficult hurdles we must overcome. The first involves our identity; the second–a more difficult one–our very safety. Yet both of these issues are rooted in faith.
We all have a self-image, an identity, that we typically work hard to maintain from childhood on. We choose clothes and hairstyles, cars, schools, jobs, homes and even spouses to tell the world who we are. But before you condemn this kind of behavior, realize that it is not in itself bad–it is just human. We intuitively want others to know what kind of people we are, and we do this through every aspect of our life. But when I become a Christian and Christ becomes my identity–who I really am–I will no longer want to advertise myself, but Him.
So the first reason many people don’t witness Christ to others is because Christ hasn’t become their identity–they haven’t really “…put on the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Romans 13:14) yet.
But what if I have “put on Christ?”–if I really have forsaken all other identities to follow Him and be His? I believe that overcoming a fear of what others will think of us–giving up our fleshly identity in favor of identifying with Christ–is the first fear we must overcome, yet there is another fear God calls us to deal with–the fear of persecution.
For generations, most Christians in our country did not have to be afraid for their physical safety, yet in other countries people have and continue to be persecuted and even slaughtered for their identification with Christ. Even here, Christianity is increasingly becoming unpopular, and while we generally assume there is no persecution yet, this isn’t always the case.
People who hate Christ and our allegiance to Him frequently try various ways to get us to do what they want. Human nature is controlling; even though there is no official governmental persecution, husbands can and do persecute their wives, bosses employees, teachers students. And in various religious and ethnic subcultures, the persecution may be more intense. So, not only must we have faith enough to give up our own identity and assume Christ’s–we must also have faith enough to give up our well-being and even our very lives, if necessary, to cling to Christ.
Yet, that is what Jesus calls us to. Christianity was never a philosophy of life or code of conduct, as some think–just another aspect of who we are. “Putting on Christ” is its very definition; it is who we are. This is why persecution has a tendency to smelt away the dross–those whose faith isn’t genuine.
When you read the Bible with open eyes–not looking for it to say something obscure or different than it really does, but also accepting all of it and not trying to fit it into a neat little package to only say what we already know–we see that Christianity is so much more than we typically get taught in Sunday School. Jesus taught:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven [Christianity; being part of God’s kingdom; being Christ’s] is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46)
Being God’s–being part of Christ’s kingdom–is so valuable, so precious, that it IS worth giving everything else up for. It is worth giving up our identity to take on Christ. And whether we understand or believe it now, it is also worth giving up our physical well-being up and even our lives, if need be, to gain Christ.
I urge you to look up The Voice of the Martyrs at http:/www.persecution.com to see what is going on around the world to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to implore God on their behalf–to comfort them, strengthen their witness, and deliver them out of their trials, if it is His will, understanding that He may indeed ask similarly of us someday.
“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3)
Dear Lord Jesus,
Help my life to indeed be hidden with You in God. Amen.