After Jesus was crucified and resurrected from the dead, he appeared to his followers. Jesus’ appearances were to encourage and educate these confused followers. Jesus spent 40 days getting his disciples ready for the day he would leave them and ascend back to Heaven. Jesus comforted them with the promise that when he left, the Holy Spirit would guide and lead them. The early followers of Jesus were tasked with taking his message to a world that needed help, direction and salvation.
The first heralding of this special message was done by Peter. In Acts 2, on the day of Pentecost (a Jewish holiday), Peter speaks to a large crowd about Jesus. In this message, Peter reminds the crowd that they were witnesses of Jesus and what Jesus did. As a matter of fact, Peter says that many of his listeners had witnessed the resurrection of Jesus.
The word—“witness” is a key word in discipleship. While you and I cannot be eyewitnesses of Jesus in this day and age, we can know and understand the truth of Jesus. We can learn and read what God’s word says about Jesus. A follower or disciple of Jesus is someone who takes what he or she has learned about Jesus and makes a decision to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. For many the discipleship process stops here. Discipleship often breaks down to an intellectual process where one acknowledges the factualness of the Bible. The problem is that Jesus defined discipleship differently. Jesus said that his followers were to be witnesses of who he was and what he taught.
So the question of the day is—“What is a witness?” The idea for “witness” is fairly straight forward. A witness is someone who speaks about something or someone. As witnesses of Jesus we are called to point to Jesus. This is a difficult task. Why? We are often more focused on ourselves. It is my observation that a huge obstacle for being an effective and consistent witness for Jesus is my preoccupation with myself. I want to be noticed. I want to be taken seriously. I want to be applauded. I could go on and on, but you probably can understand my obsession with myself. If we were honest, we would admit that we all are afflicted with this condition. Can you relate with the saying—“It is hard to love Homer as much as Homer loves Homer.” Just change the name in this last phrase and insert our own names.
Getting back to the question of what a witness is, we need to understand that we are called to point to Jesus—not be the one pointed to. A witness is never the center but only the person who points to or names what is going on in the center. This discussion about being a witness of Jesus is not simply to keep ourselves out of the limelight. I am more and more convinced that Christianity will not be taken seriously in our culture if we forget to lift up Jesus. While we may not like to admit it, our culture has forsaken the Godly principles that our Founding Fathers envisioned. How can our society know how to live, act and operate if we are not witnesses of Jesus? Imagine what your co-worker, neighbor, friend or family member might say or think if they were to see a life (your life) that is developed out of a call from God. A life that is based on God’s revelation about truth, righteousness and nobility. Jesus used the metaphor of “light” to describe how we are to affect the world around us. Let us be lights that shine Jesus into a world of darkness. Keep looking up!