In my teenage years, a person I met for the first time shared the message of God’s salvation with me and gifted me a copy of the New Testament. That conversation and the subsequent reading of God’s Word started the process that would eventually lead me to accept Christ as my Savior.
In the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19, Jesus highlighted the need for every Christian to be a witness, sharing the Gospel. He said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” Jesus’ disciples took His command very seriously and ensured that the message of Christ would be taken wherever they traveled.
It is believed that among the disciples, the Apostle Thomas brought the message of God’s salvation plan as far as the nation of India – that’s a long way from Jerusalem! This has great significance for me personally since I live in Sri Lanka, India’s closest neighboring country.
1. Witnessing Starts in Jerusalem – Our Immediate Environment
Jesus commanded His believers to be witnesses, starting in Jerusalem. Witnessing, therefore, involves telling people about Jesus and faithfully sharing the message of the Gospel, together with our personal testimony. We cannot delegate this task to anyone else. Wherever God has placed us becomes our Jerusalem.
The ministry of the disciples in Jerusalem is shown in Acts 1:1 – Acts 8:3. A powerful result of how well they did this can be found in Acts 5:28, where they are confronted with hostility by the religious leaders and the High Priest who said, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name…Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching…”. What a powerful testimony! The response of the disciples to the threats was, “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29). That’s exactly what they did in Jerusalem.
Witnessing Is a Two-Fold Process
The first part of this process comes through our example – by allowing the love and grace of God to flow through us to those we interact with. Our lifestyle testimony has great potential to draw people to what Christ has done within us.
As we look at the church in Acts, we see that they exhibited the love of Christ in an unheard-of and remarkable manner. Acts 4:32 says, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.”
3. Witnessing Carries a Cost
Through the centuries, God’s servants have faced relentless persecution for their faith. Such persecution can come against us through family members, friends, colleagues, peers, and authorities. In some instances, the persecution could even bring physical harm or be life-threatening.