Monday, July 13, 2015

Four Men and a Witness

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

I’m going to share the stories of four men of God whose witness I experience this past week, two in the ministry and two lay persons. I want to start out saying that I recognize that these stories are not analogous and are related in no way other than they made an impression on me this past week.

The first man is a professional minister who, having a heart attack, went to the local emergency room and had two stents inserted the following day. I spoke with him several times over those 48 hours. He was always in good spirits and at peace in the Lord through the whole experience—all the time praising God for his mercy and presence in the whole situation from beginning to end.

The second professional minister shared a meal with me. Over the three hour meal, he proceeded to widen the gap between his perceived superiority and my apparent inferiority by smugly exposing my ignorance of Greek philosophers and historical figures in church history and in American history. He could have taught me so much about Scripture and we could have shared how God was working in our lives. Instead, I was the focus and repository for all his animosity for the religion God has guided me to. I went home feeling battered and wounded.

The other two men whose witness caught my attention came to me via radio. A man had called into the Christian radio station to tell of how the Spirit had convicted him while listening to the radio station the day before to make right a sin he committed over thirty years ago when he stole items from the other man’s vehicle. He went to this man, admitted his theft and asked forgiveness offering the man $500 to atone for his sin against him. This second man gazed upon the first with “the face of Christ” (as described by the first man) and told him that he could make up for the theft by donating the money to the radio ministry (which he did).

In most of these men, I saw the fruits of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I witnessed the grace of Jesus flowing through them right to me and I was uplifted. I wanted God's presence in my life the way I saw it in theirs. It got me to thinking once again about the witness I am giving to the Lord Jesus Christ in my life and in daily interactions.

When I’m short on time and having to wait in a long line, when I know I'm right and the store employee is still telling me that the store won't refund my money, when a man in the auto shop treats me like an idiot or takes advantage of my automotive ignorance to oversell and overcharge me, when I’m in a gathering with someone whose political or religious views make my blood boil….what is the witness I am giving to them? Because I am giving a witness whether I mean to or not. Am I trying to prove my worth, my importance, and my righteousness while hiding behind God’s name or am I showing them God’s grace and peace in action in my life? Am I showing through my example, my attitude, and my interactions with them something that will draw them to Jesus or push them away?

1 comment:

Common Household Mom said...

There are so many things in this post. My first observation is that your post makes obvious that it is not just "professional" people who witness to God's love in the world. Second, I always think it is a miracle when sick people are able to be kind and gracious. The most astonishing thing to me is that Jesus, in pain on the cross, had it in him to think about other people and forgive them. That's hard to do when a person is in pain.

I am sorry you had to feel the discomfort of that conversation during the three hour meal. I can only imagine that the other person is in a great deal of internal pain, and dishes it out to lessen his own pain. But easy for me to say - I wasn't there having to listen to it. It is very easy to get caught up in being RIGHT rather than being loving. Dang it, being loving (or any of those other fruits of the spirit) is just the hardest thing!