I have been writing about Christian witnessing in these last number of columns. When all is said and done, the best advise on the subject comes from the pages of the Bible itself. 1 Peter 3:15-16 in The Living Bible reads, "Quietly trust yourself to Christ your Lord, and if anybody asks why you believe as you do, be ready to tell Him, and do it in a gentle and respectful way. Do what is right; then if men speak against you, calling you evil names, they will become ashamed of themselves for falsely accusing you when you have only done what is good."
Christian witness is born out of Christian commitment. "Quietly trust yourself to Christ your Lord." When the mind becomes convinced, the heart changed and the will complies by responding to the message of truth, any life can be redeemed and radically renewed. The Bible says, "When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside.
He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!" (2 Corinthians 5:17, The Living Bible). Those of us who have made this commitment, believe it to be true; believe it to be the only way of salvation. Now, before the cries of protest arise, read on.
Christian witness is not an arrogant, prideful or pushy proposition. "If anybody asks why you believe as you do, be ready to tell him, and do it in a gentle and respectful way." Yes, I believe that Jesus' claims are true. Believing that, I believe him to be the only way to life eternal. You may disagree. You may think me wrong. But please don't make the error of thinking of me as being narrow minded and bigoted in my beliefs when you have to use the same standards to tell me I'm wrong.
It always amazes me how people can write off my beliefs as exclusive and never see that they themselves are doing so from their own excluding views. Even those who wish to hold that all roads lead to heaven, have the bind spot of rejecting the Christian message in their desire to include everyone. That is, while they claim that it doesn't matter what a person believes as long as they believe, at the same time they want to tell me what I believe is wrong - that there cannot be only one way to heaven.
I talk to people of different faiths all the time. I have many friends of different faiths and views with whom I maintain close relationships. Sometimes they share their views with me (because they want me to be converted to their truth) and sometimes I have the privilege of sharing my views with them (because I want them to come to Christ).
Holding different views does not separate us. Certainly it has the potential of doing so, if, I were to become overly aggressive and demand they see things from my point of view. But then, I would be going against the very message I was trying to propagate. We always try to witness "in a gentle and respectful way."
Christian witness is responsive. Notice the verse we have been using in this article says, "If anybody asks you why you believe as you do, be ready to tell him." I don't force my views on others (at least that is never my intent); however, I am glad to share my views when offered the chance.
I know there are those who read my columns who do not share my views. That's fine. I simply thank you for reading me and hope that you understand that these columns are one of those opportunities I have to share my views. I will write what I believe. Some take offense at what I might express.
That is your prerogative, but please understand that I try very hard not to be purposefully offensive. I write, you read and then you have to decide whether you agree or not, I am not trying to force you to accept what I believe.
Finally, Christian witness must be backed by a life. "Do what is right; then if men speak against you, calling you evil names, they will become ashamed of themselves for falsely accusing you when you have only done what is good."
Too many witnesses destroy any chance of believability because of the life they live. Those of us who claim to know Christ, must live as Christ (see 1 John 2:6).
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church. Write him in care of the church at 11677 Brown Bridge Road Covington, GA 30016. Or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org For more information visit the Gateway website at www.gatewaycommunity.org