A popular broadcast preacher often asks the congregation, “Can I get a witness?” It is really a good question, and I often wonder if Jesus isn’t asking many of us the same thing. Very few of us (‘us’ being Evangelical Christians) often share our faith in Christ with another person who is a nonbeliever. I will spare you the endless statistics on this subject; just ask yourself this question, when was the last time I did that. A frequently cited problem that blocks us from sharing is a lack of knowledge on how to lead a person to Christ; there are a plethora of books on that subject, so let’s dismiss ignorance as a valid reason. Anyone who has come to faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior knows enough to share the reality of their faith! I would like to suggest a more powerful underlying deterrent to witnessing than procedural ignorance; Christians who occasionally behave badly (me included).
1st Peter 3:8-16 is a classic text encouraging us to give a witness in often hostile environments. The passage certainly does call for good behavior on the part of believers as a substantiation of the message of the Gospel, and yes, we are called to strive to behave well before all people; but that just doesn’t always happen, now, does it. We say or do something wrong (or stupid) and we fear our validity as a witness is compromised; perhaps it is. We need to remember that even a compromised witness is far better than no witness, and it may serve as a good example of God’s gracious forgiveness and redeeming love. Allow me to share a brief history of not yet perfect witnesses for Jesus:
Paul and Barnabas argued and split up (Acts 15), Peter balked at eating with gentiles (Galatians 2), James and John wanted to burn up an entire village (Luke 9), two ladies in the Church at Philippi had a major falling out (Philippians 4), Demas deserted Paul (2nd Timothy 4), Paul could be hard to understand (well, duh! 2nd Peter 3), the whole Church at Corinth needed restoration (2nd Corinthians 13).
This is just a partial list from the New Testament, and we didn’t even crack the Old Testament! Now then, were there powerful and effective witnesses for Christ among these people?
Let’s return to the text cited in 1st Peter 3; take particular note of verse 15. What are we to witness to? We bear witness to the hope we have in Christ who is the Lord of our heart. Having a bad moment or day does not remove our hope; it should spur our discipleship, but it does not defeat our hope in Christ, and that is the core of our witness.
Just remember, we are bearers of Heavenly treasure in jars of clay (2nd Corinthians 4).
So don’t be self defeated witnesses, just be cracked pots for Christ!