Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Winning Witness

Imagine a witness on a witness' stand in a courtroom. This witness is being asked a series of questions about a certain event because he or she had a first hand account of what occurred. As this witness is being questioned, a jury of people (who were not present at the event the witness was) are listening intently and soaking in all the information they can in order to paint a picture of the event in their minds. This witness begins to describe the event using words only understandable by rocket scientists and the jury is unable to comprehend anything he or she says. After completing the questions, the witness leaves and the jury realizes that, because they weren't able to understand what the witness was talking about, they are no better off than they were before.

As Christians, we are witnesses to the life-change that only a relationship with Jesus Christ can bring about. We know first hand the many blessings that God has placed in our lives because of our obedience in maintaining this relationship. Because Jesus' love is so wonderful and because of the wonderful opportunities He gives us to conform our ways closer to His, we sometimes get excited and begin to witness to others using big words and spiritual truths that only mature Christians have come to understand. Being this excited is not wrong, in fact, we should be extremely excited! However, when witnessing to someone who doesn't understand much about the Bible or God's plan for their lives, it's important we take a gander at the Bible to find the best way to talk with them.

In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul is talking to the Corinthian church about how he first came to them to tell them about God's plan through Jesus Christ. He tells them in verses 1-5 that when he came to them he didn't use lofty words or brilliant ideas to tell them about God's good news. He reminded them that he decided to concentrate only on Jesus and His death on the cross. He also mentions that his preaching was very plain and contained no wise or persuasive speeches. Paul did this because, as we see in 1 Corinthians 3:1-2a, the Corinthians were not mature enough in their walks with Christ to understand a lot of "spiritual truths" (see 1 Corinthians 2:13b). He told them that he had to talk to them as though they "belonged to this world or as though they were infants in the Christian life" and he had to "feed [them] with milk and not with solid food, because [they] couldn't handle anything stronger."

As you can see, Paul gives us the perfect example of how to witness to others and how to help new believers grow. Paul shows us that, if we are witnessing to someone who isn't a mature believer, we mustn't use words or ideas that they will not understand. This can actually be counterproductive because "people who aren't Christians can't understand the [spiritual truths from God]" (see 1 Corinthians 2:10,14). We should concentrate "only on Jesus and His death on the cross." By sticking to the basics of God's good news and a personal relationship with Christ, you are not only giving them "food" that they are able to "eat", but you are showing them that a relationship with Christ is not based upon knowledge of theology or advanced apologetics but on their choice to place God at the center of their lives.

When you tell others about Christ, do you use lofty words that they are unable to understand? Are you shy when it comes to witnessing because you don't feel like you know enough? While a deeper knowledge of Christ's plan for our lives and other deep spiritual thoughts are important, we should be careful to not cram a "steak" into the throats of those who are only infants. Witnessing to others should be about meeting someone on their level and going from there. Always start with the basics and then build a relationship with them where each of you will become more mature in your understanding of God and His plan for your lives (see Proverbs 27:17). Just like the witness in the courtroom was no help to the jury, if we don't explain God's good news (the Gospel) in a way that someone can understand, they will most likely be no better off than they were before.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Wisest Counselor

As humans, we are characterized by the inability to make a decision that takes every single piece of information into account. Decisions like where to live, what car to buy, who to marry, who to hang out with and how to live our lives are very important decisions that can have major consequences if the right decisions are not made. Because we are finite (or limited) in the amount of knowledge that we possess, those of us who are wise seek counsel when making a decision that requires a lot of attention to detail. To facilitate our efforts in making sure our decisions take into account as much information as possible, we have devised practices like checks and balances, boards of directors, congress, etc. Even so, none of us are perfect and, more times than not, our decisions turn out lacking complete wisdom.

So when hard decisions come our way, what should we do? Should we depend on human knowledge to help us through? No, as Christians we have the awesome ability to know the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:10-16). Through the light of Holy Spirit's direction and the Word of God, we are able to find our footing and walk where the Lord guides us. Sadly, instead of seeking the wisdom and counsel of God found in the Bible and through fellowship with Him, many times we seek the counsel of those who who think that the guidance of the Holy Spirit is foolish (1 Corinthians 2:14)--those who are not Christ-followers. The problem with seeking the counsel of those who believe the Word of God is foolish is that we're back at square one: the counsel we are receiving is fallible and does not take all information into account.

Isaiah 40:12-15 reminds us that, when it comes down to it, God knows everything and His counsel cannot be topped, "Who else has held the oceans in His hand? Who has measured off the heavens with His fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord? Who knows enough to give Him advice or teach Him? Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice? Does He need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach Him what is right or show Him the path of justice? No, for all the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket. They are nothing more than dust on the scales. He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand."

Do you allow the will of God to be your ultimate decision maker? Do you involve prayer, meditation of scripture and fellowship with fellow believers in all of the decisions you are faced with? God is so much bigger than what we comprehend Him to be; we have no room to boast about our wisdom because the wisest of counsel here on Earth is much worse than even the least from God (1 Corinthians 1:25). No one can teach Him and no one can trump His knowledge. So, as Christians, the deciding factor in all that we do should be His will. We must meditate on the Word of God and allow our lives to conform to the life He wants for us, not the patterns of this world. Throughout your day, be aware of the amount of decisions you make and strive to seek the counsel of God in order to find what it is He wants you to do. You will find that His counsel is perfect and just, and through your trust in Him, your relationship with and dedication to Him will grow.