Being a W-3 Community, Part 2

 

witness.JPGWITNESS SONG

By Greg Eggleston

I will sing my witness song,
I will sing it all day long,
For a world that’s gone so wrong,
I will sing it loud and strong.
If you know Jesus then sing along,
Sing along.

Will you sing your witness song,
Will you sing it all day long,
Good news we must pass along,
Heaven’s where we all belong.
We hear Jesus sing his witness song.
Sing along.

We hear Jesus sing his song,
He’ll be back before too long,
‘Till then witness will be strong,
Singing Jesus’ happy song.
Hearing angels, we just sing along,
Sing along.

We all sing our witness song,
We sing good news all day long,
Come and join God’s happy throng
Show the world your faith is strong,
Each day boldly sing this joyous song,
Sing along.

These lyrics capture the essence of this post. Kingdom living involves carrying the message of the King to the world, being a witness of His majesty and the wonderful ways that He is at work in the world and in our lives. The author of these lyrics, Gene Eggleston, also wrote:

With God’s Spirit showing us how,
We’ll sing our bold witness song.
It’s what the world needs now,
…What it’s needed all along.

 

These words aptly summarize one of the primary missions of the followers of Christ today. It’s not just in song, though, that we “perform” our witness. It is through the whole of our lives, with all of the energy we can muster that we focus on BEING A WITNESSING COMMUNITY…

A Key Passage in regard is 2 Corinthians 4:5-7, “Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, ‘Light up the darkness!’ and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful. If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.” (MSG)

Three key practices which will help us be the kind of witness community God wants us to be are:

a) Clarity— The king’s messenger doesn’t beat around the bush. Nor does she tone down the message to make it more palatable to the masses. No the king’s messenger is just that: a messenger who delivers with precision and simplicity whatever message the king wishes to communicate.

If ever there was a person who looked at the Apostle Peter incredulously I can just hear him say, “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16-18, TNIV)

Granted, none of us is able to give such an eye-witness account, but we can with a clarion voice give testimony of our confidence in the account. Indeed, just as we have set apart Christ Jesus as Lord in our hearts (a private matter), we should be ready, willing and able to gently and respectfully give an answer to everyone who asks us a reason for the hope that is in us (a public witness)! (See: 1 Peter 3:15)

b) Consistency— The same God who caused light to shine out of darkness into our hearts through Jesus Christ is the God who said “Let there be light” in the beginning. His light is pure! In fact, the Apostle John tells us that there is no darkness in our God at all! (See: 1 John 1:5) Our God is characteristically consistent. Just like the Creator of the cosmos is consistent, so also are the messengers of the Creator to report this consistency! Actually, we are simply to be a reflection of His light. Now, there are a couple of things that can thwart our efforts to be consistent.

First, a problem often arises when we embellish the story in an effort to improve the story or thinking that this will somehow make the story sound more appealing. Really now, what can we do to improve on the story of how God has worked / is working in the world? Let’s just report the facts!

Second, and this is where this whole idea gets a bit touchy, how can we humans who are characteristically and consistently flawed hope to have a consistent witness for God? Good news! That’s the point! God has chosen to deliver His message to the world in jars of clay. He wants everyone to know that the vessel is not the focus. In fact, the flaws make the message that much more dazzling. Just look at what God is able to do! This is not because of us, but in spite of us! Can those who are painfully aware of their brokenness find hope in the message of God? Yes! God is able to use people who are similarly flawed to deliver His message. We must not pretend otherwise! We must consistently acknowledge our humanness so that others can see that it really is possible for the unfolding story of God’s grace to enfold them as well!

c) Humility— Well, humility is obviously necessary if we are going to live in a manner consistent with the message of grace. Earthen vessels really don’t have much to boast about, do they?

But, there is a bit more to this. I’m reminded of the very old story of the farmer who went out to plow his field with a horse-drawn plow. After making several passes across his field he noticed his six-year-old son standing at the edge of the field. The boy had been pleading with his father for the opportunity to go plow with him. Knowing that it would be exhausting for the child and might even tax him beyond his limits the father had not yet yielded to his pleas. But, on this day he finally consented.

The son fell in behind the plow. He held on for all he was worth to the cross bar that provided strength for the handles that overarched his head. With these handles his father masterfully guided the plow, while commanding the massive Irish draught horse that was pulling the plow.

The lad was underfoot and very much in the way. His father worked much harder with him helping than he would have worked otherwise. But, while his young son continued to hold on for dear life he would frequently look up at his father with a warm smile that prevented this exhausted father from sending his son packing back to the house and his mother.

Early in the day—much earlier than usual—the farmer and his son returned to their home for their mid-day meal. When they stepped on to the wooden porch the boy rushed ahead and threw open the door and ran into the house exclaiming, “Momma! Momma! I plowed today! Father helped, too!”

Every single one of us needs to start every day with a prayer of thanksgiving that runs something like this: Dear Lord, though I’ll be in your way and make things much more difficult than they really ought to be, would you please let me plow with You today? Please give me the strength to hold on and please help me to humbly give you all the credit for any good that we are able to do “together” today.

Well, there’s more that could be said about this, but I’m reasonably certain we all get the point. As much as we are all in need of grace, we would do well to remember that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. May we all humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God!

So, there you have it—a few thoughts about the second “W” in this series on being a W-3 Community. Our lives should be WITNESS to God’s glory and God’s great work in our midst! Our words need to be a testimony of the fullness of God’s grace reigning in our hearts. Our thoughts and the intentions of our hearts should reflect a desire to clearly, consistently and humbly magnify God with the whole of our lives. With God’s Spirit showing us how, we’ll sing our bold witness song. It’s what the world needs now. What it’s needed all along!

About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Blogroll, Christian Living, Christian Missions, Christianity, Discipleship Training, Following Jesus, Kingdom Living, Life, Missional Living, Preaching Notes. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Being a W-3 Community, Part 2

  1. cwinwc says:

    “Witnessing” is a big “w” word. If folks aren’t witnessing to the “assignments God sends them” it could be an indicator of poor health in your (as in all of ours) church.

    I remember this “w” word hitting me square in my spiritual face during my first year of teaching. I shared a ride with a good friend who attended a Baptist Church. The subject of what we do in our classrooms as Christians teaching in secular settings came up. I remember (his name was Bill as well) my Christian colleague telling me that when ever the opportunity came up he “witnessed to his kids.” It was a bold statement to this new Christian / new teacher that I’ve never forgotten.

  2. Greg England says:

    We’re very weak on this. I wrote a blog today about sharing our story … not nearly as in-depth as what you wrote here. Do you have any time left over in the day after you blog? Just curious because you put SO MUCH into your articles. Good stuff! No complaints … just don’t want to have to compete against you!
    You mentioned about the king’s messenger … I read recently in a blog response on somebody’s blog (some days I think I spend too much time reading blogs … not your blog, but just linking on from blog to blog) where a preacher mentioned the “U-Haul Sermon” that every preacher delivers or is tempted to deliver. That sermon that causes one to be fired! I’ve never delievered that sermon because the churches I have preached for either don’t listen to them, or they just tolerate them. But often the messenger with a true message from God is very out of step with the church today. Sad but true.
    As always, Bill, this is a very good blog!!

  3. ksreyes says:

    Wow Bill,
    This is going to take weeks for me to digest!! Did you have this series already written down somewhere (she asks with suspicion…..?) Again I’m blown away by the depth of the content. If God ever moves me to your neck of the woods, I hope you will be my pastor!! This is awesome work, Bill. I hope it is going to be in one of your books…….will you sign my copy for me???

    Oh BTW I loved your response to manipulating writers…..so far no additional comments. But I did post a prayer request for a brother who is struggling right now. Stop by.

    peace+
    kiersten

  4. Gail says:

    Hi Bill, I have come over from Mark’s blog to visit you.
    Thank you for giving me so much to think about,digest and challenge me.

  5. Kathy says:

    Great subject and beautifully, powerfully presented, Bill. Bless you for doing so!!

    I often wonder what it is about the greatest news ever brought to man that terrifies us so much. What is it that drains us of boldness? What is it that frightens us into silence as we observe those that are so desperately in need of their Savior and don’t even know it?

    We are told to approach the Throne of Grace boldly. Jesus gifts us with the promise of declaring us to the Father if we declare Him to others, and the promise of judgment if we are ashamed of Him. That’s even more terrifying to consider, don’t you think?

    It really comes down to rather raw facts. Either we’re truly thankful to God for His salvation and love for us, or we’re truly grateful for the approval of our fellow mankind and don’t want to make waves in our nice comfortable life. Do we truly love our neighbors as we love ourselves to the point of helping them walk away from the cliffs of Hades and into eternal life with Him? Can we forget about our self-image so we can boldly present the image of Christ in us to those that are still lost? Our words MUST accompany our actions in full witness of Jesus to others, at least imho.

    As I heard Sunday morning from the grandchild of a German survivor of Nazi Germany, we are making the same mistake the Jews did in 1939-1944 – we are privatizing our faith and belief, leaving a vaccum in society that will be filled by Satan and his minions if we do not move our faith and belief out into the open, filling the world with the message of Jesus.

    There’s simply no way around it. Jesus commanded it, we love Him, so we MUST witness Jesus to others as often as we can, wherever and whenever the opportunity arises. It’s kind of like jumping into the cold Pacific Ocean water, after the first headlong plunge it’s really kinda fun and invigorating!

  6. Gail says:

    Bill, I have just been on another blog and Eric has a link to a poem about jars of clay. It made me think of your post.

    http://wandascountryhome.com/potter/

  7. A warm welcome to you, Gail! Any friend of Mark’s is a friend of mine!!Heart-felt thanks, also, for the link to this fabulous poem! I hope many will take the time to give it a read.

    Blessings,

    -bill

  8. Bill says:

    Kathy:

    What penetrating questions! You are so insightful and succinct! I’m so grateful our blog paths crossed. I’m also grateful you are graciously bless us by sharing your insights with all of us here!

    Love you, sis!
    -bill

  9. Bill says:

    Kiersten:

    You are so kind! If God allows me the length of days and soundness of mind, I hope to get a book or two finished before I “quit the walks of men”. If I do, I’ll gladly sign your copy!

    BTW, I’m praying for John.

    — — — —

    Greg:

    Your kind words of encouragement are appreciated and I send them right back at you!

    I’ve not heard of the “U-Haul Sermon” tag. But, I have heard of preachers that preached “moving sermons”. Same general idea, though.

    BTW, I’ve really ejoyed your posts of late. They’d be better if you could find a way to fit in a few remarks about family pets, especially of the canine persuasion.

    — — — —

    Cecil:

    Thanks for the real-live example of what it means to be a witness for the Lord! BTW, my prayers are with you as you begin a new school year. You are working in one of the largest most receptive mission fields in the world. A husband and wife teaching team were key instruments in God’s hand in helping me to learn what it means to follow Jesus.

    May God bless your missionary work, dear brother!

    You are all such a blessing to my life!

    Blessings right back to each one of you,
    -bill

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