Thursday, 3 July 2014

Rethinking Our Faith Stories

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15; NIV)

I went for fellowship with some friends over coffee the other day, and one brother said something in passing that made me sit up and think a little bit. He suggested that, “We need to always keep our testimony current.” While he didn’t elaborate further, the thought of my testimony percolated a while longer within me.

How current are our testimonies?

If you or I were asked to give a reason for the hope that we have, what would we say? Are we still using an old and outdated testimony, an “I was born in the 1950’s to Christian parents and came to know the Lord when I was twelve” kind of testimony? That’s nice, but what has God been doing in your life since then? Will that kind of testimony encourage and bless another brother or sister? Will that kind of testimony turn a hard and unbelieving heart to the love of Jesus? Just as we wouldn’t use our first resume from our high school days in applying for a job today, so too in the spiritual realm we probably shouldn’t use an outdated testimony either.

How current are our testimonies?

I have often shared things that God has done in my life, wonderful things that at the time truly blessed me. When I needed Him, He was always there. For example, part of my testimony used to include a visit to the dentist’s office at a time when I could least afford it.

It was about 1990 and we had just moved into a new community and were starting over. As it turned out, I suddenly found myself facing a dental emergency, with no dentist and no way of paying for one even if I had a dentist. Money was extremely tight. Still, I had to get the tooth taken care of, and so I looked through the Yellow Pages for the nearest dentist and made an appointment. Soon the problem tooth was repaired, and as I pulled out my checkbook (knowing that the check would probably bounce), the dentist said to me, “No charge. Consider it a gift from Heaven.” I kid you not; it’s true! He did not know me, or my financial situation, but to this day, I’m convinced that man knew God. Who but God could orchestrate that?

I still marvel at that part of my testimony, but how current is it? It’s not very current at all; it’s more than twenty years old! What’s God been doing in my life since then? Do I have anything a little newer and more current to share? How’s my walk with Jesus been this past week? How about this past month? Or even this past year? As I thought about it afterwards, I think that’s what my friend was getting at as we fellowshipped over coffee at McDonalds that day.

How current are our testimonies?

I’m afraid mine needs some updating.

As I thought about that, I randomly found myself reading Jesus’ account of the Vine and the Branches. Could that have been God further reinforcing the need for me to update my own testimony? If I am truly in a living communion with Jesus, then it’s safe to say that there as also some regular pruning going on in my life in order to make me more fruitful. Perhaps sharing some of that pain (and pruning is painful) might bless and encourage others who are also undergoing a trial in their own lives. 
“I, in contradistinction to anyone else, am the vine, the genuine vine, and my Father is the tiller of the soil. Every branch in me not bearing fruit He takes away. And every branch bearing fruit, He cleanses it in order that it may keep on bearing more fruit. As for you, already you are cleansed ones because of the word which I have spoken to you. Maintain a living communion with me, and I with you. Just as the branch is unable to be bearing fruit from itself as a source unless it remains in a living union with the vine, so neither you, unless you maintain a living communion with me.” (John 15: 1-4; Wuest’s)
Are we maintaining a living communion with Jesus? If so, then by necessity we are also in relationships with others, Christians and non-Christians alike, and charged with the task of bearing fruit, in and for, the Kingdom of God. One of the ways we do that is through sharing our testimonies, our faith stories.

How current are our testimonies?

Something to think about.

Photo Credit: Brett Davies, Flickr Creative Commons

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