Lately I’ve noticed a trend in my friendships and in the ministry I’m a part of on my campus. I know a lot of people who, not only don’t, but are unwilling to share their testimonies.
I realize it’s hard to be open with people. When a person is asked by a friend to share their story of how they came to know Christ, and that person tells their friend that they don’t want to, I think therein lies a problem. So what do we do when we provide the space to be open, but people still choose not to be?
Well, since I’m currently in the process of learning what to do, I’m not completely sure yet. However, I do have some reasons why I think that not wanting to share our testimonies is a problem that we need to fix.
The Gospel is powerful, but…
Now, yes, this subtitle might be confusing. “What do you mean ‘but’?” Hear me out though. The Gospel on its own is of course powerful. It’s the most powerful story in history. The Gospel in itself can definitely lead people to the Lord, but what about those experiences we’ve had where we share the Gospel with a non-believer, and they look completely unenthused?
God gave us each an individual, tangible example of how the Gospel has shown itself true to us. When we pair sharing the Gospel with sharing our own life experiences of how we’ve seen it to be real, it becomes even more powerful. In my experience, living in the South, the majority of the people I’ve shared the Gospel with have heard it before.
Yes, they usually only know some watered-down, prosperity Gospel or Sunday school version, but they’ve heard it, so they tune out. To many people who aren’t Christians, the Gospel can sound like just a story. However, we know that it’s not just a story, because we’ve personally experienced how it is true, and not just words on pages.
We’ve experienced His grace. We’ve been redeemed. We’ve been transformed. We’ve been saved. We’ve seen how His promises in His word are indeed true. Therefore we have to tell people how that happened.
Revelation 12:11 says, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb AND by the word of their testimony”. It’s important that we pay attention to the “and” in that verse. Our stories are a weapon God has given us to overcome the enemy.
We are Witnesses
“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
We are called repeatedly in the bible to be witnesses. The definition of a witness is someone who gives a firsthand account of something seen, heard, or experienced. When Jesus tells the disciples in Acts to be his witnesses, it’s obvious what he meant. He was instructing them to tell people that they had seen him resurrected after his crucifixion.
But for us, what does it mean? No, we haven’t seen Jesus next to us in the flesh, but we have heard about it and we have read about it. So that’s the “something heard” part. But what about the “something seen” and “experienced” parts? That’s where our testimonies come in.
No, we haven’t actually seen Jesus, but we’ve seen His Spirit move. We haven’t experienced him dying on the cross and coming to us afterwards to talk and hang out with us, but we have experienced Him speaking into our lives in whatever way we were able to hear him best.
To be the true definition of a witness, we have to share with people how we’ve seen, heard, or experienced God.
It Doesn’t Belong to Us
In reality, our individual testimonies are actually just tiny portions of the story of what God has been doing since the beginning of time. It’s His story.
It’s important for us to remember that we didn’t save ourselves. We should all know this as a fact, but I wonder if withholding our testimonies is us giving off that impression in a way. Our stories are about what God did, not about what we did, so it’s not right for us to decide that we want to keep them a secret.
They don’t belong to us; therefore we have no right to withhold them from others. Just as our faith wasn’t meant to be kept just to ourselves, neither are our testimonies.
Let’s be Show-offs
The relationship between God and us as the church is supposed to look like a marriage. When someone gets proposed to, they don’t just tell their friends by saying, “Oh, I got engaged.” Rather they excitedly tell their friends every detail of the engagement and the story of how their fiancé proposed.
In the same way this is how we should tell our friends of how God called us to Him. We aren’t just supposed to say, “God saved me,” but we also should tell people how that happened. When a girl tells her friends the story of how she got proposed to, it’s because she wants to show off how great her fiancé is.
Leaving out the back story won’t make him seem as wonderful. How much more then should we want to be “show-offs” of how we came to know Christ and what he did in our lives.
“Sing to Him; sing praises to Him; tell of ALL his wondrous works!” -1 Chronicles 16:9
We all have a story, and none is greater or worse than the other. They all show off God’s power and faithfulness. So if you don’t want to share your testimony because you think it’s not special enough, don’t think that way. Even if you feel like you haven’t been through much there’s still a moment I’m sure we can all say when we began to grow closer to God and began to see him moving.
Also, if you don’t want to share your story because you think it’s too extreme or too sad, remember there are people who have probably been through similar things. In fact, in my experience, I’ve been able to form close friendships with people based solely on the fact that our testimonies were similar.
Also, as I said in my last post about openness, it’s these stories that non-Christians are going to relate to most. They’ll better understand that just as God saved you, he can save them too.
Opportunities in College
As college students, we only have four years on our campuses. That’s four years to develop the friendships we have and four years to build trust with others. Think how much time we’re wasting if we keep making the excuse that we’ll share our story with our friends once we’re more comfortable with them.
The fact is, in four years, you probably won’t be able to become completely comfortable. So we can’t wait until we’re ready because that day might never come. Whether we’re introverted, don’t like to be vulnerable, or are “closed off” people, we have to, for the sake of strong community in ministry and for the sake of our friends’ salvation, put that all aside and do something that we’re not comfortable with.
God has given you power through your testimony, so it must be shared. The more we share our testimonies, especially if we at least start by telling our Christian friends, the easier it will get.
“The Lord has vindicated us. Come, let us announce in Jerusalem everything the Lord our God has done.” –Jeremiah 51:10