If you missed Tuesday's and yesterday's blog, please go back and read them. They will help set the stage for the rest of the week. We are considering 3 major applications that will help us understand what it means to be a witness. We have already seen that Christianity is defined far differently by us today than it was by Paul. Today....
The second application that I want us to see as we consider being witnesses for Christ is that our failure to suffer has hindered evangelism. God intends for the afflictions of Christ to be presented to the world through the afflictions of His people. Churches and Christians today are more likely to say, come and see, than they are to go and tell. If the world happens to come, they don’t generally see people sold out to Christ. They often see CEO style leaders, conversational “preaching,” and people who are ready to jump on the next bandwagon, regardless of whether or not it is biblical, in hopes of quick fix for a broken church. What the world wants to see is people so legitimate, so convinced, and so on fire for Christ that they are willing to up their money, give up their possessions, give up their families, and their very lives for Christ! That is not what they see. They see big buildings, big budgets, Bible education, Bible studies, and Bible distribution. They see plans, programs, and prayer meetings, but they don’t often see martyres or witnesses.
Paul was willing to suffer if that is what it took to get the gospel to people. He said in Galatians 6:17, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” God wants us to present the marks of Christ to the world by a willingness to suffer. Michael Card, in his article “Wounded in the House of Friends,” from and April 2001 issue of Virtue magazine tells the story of a young man named Joseph. Consider the excerpt from this article below:
One day Joseph, who was walking along one of these hot, dirty African roads, met someone who shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with him. Then and there he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. The power of the Spirit began transforming his life; he was filled with such excitement and joy that the first thing he wanted to do was return to his own village and share that same Good News with the members of his local tribe.
Joseph began going from door-to-door, telling everyone he met about the Cross of Jesus and the salvation it offered, expecting to see their faces light up the way his had. To his amazement the villagers not only didn’t care, they became violent. The men of the village seized him and held him to the ground while the women beat him with strands of barbed wire. He was dragged from the village and left to die alone in the bush.
Joseph somehow managed to crawl to a waterhole, and there, after days of passing in and out of consciousness, found the strength to get up. He wondered about the hostile reception he had received from people he had known all his life. He decided he must have left something out or told the story of Jesus incorrectly. After rehearsing the message he had first heard, he decided to go back and share his faith once more.
Joseph limped into the circle of huts and began to proclaim Jesus. 'He died for you, so that you might find forgiveness and come to know the living God,' he pleaded. Again he was grabbed by the men of the village and held while the women beat him reopening wounds that had just begun to heal. Once more they dragged him unconscious from the village and left him to die.
To have survived the first beating was truly remarkable. To live through the second was a miracle. Again, days later, Joseph awoke in the wilderness, bruised, scarred—and determined to go back.
He returned to the small village and this time, they attacked him before he had a chance to open his mouth. As they flogged him for the third and probably the last time, he again spoke to them of Jesus Christ, the Lord. Before he passed out, the last thing he saw was that the women who were beating him began to weep.
This time he awoke in his own bed. The ones who had so severely beaten him were now trying to save his life and nurse him back to health. The entire village had come to Christ.
Our failure to suffer has hindered evangelism! If we are to reach the lost, we must come to the place where we stop asking how much will it cost? Or, is it safe? But just, is it a command of God in Scripture? Then, here am I, send me! Anywhere, anytime. In the words of Brother Andrew, “There’s not one door in the world closed where you want to witness for Jesus…Show me a closed door and I will tell you how you can get in. I won’t however, promise you a way to get out. Jesus didn’t say, Go if the doors are open, because they weren’t open! He didn’t say, Go if you have an invitation or a red carpet treatment. He said, Go because people need His Word. We need a new approach to mission—an aggressive, experimental, evangelical, no holds barred approach…a pioneering spirit.” Our failure to be willing to suffer has hindered our evangelism and mission efforts.