Summary: To be a success as a Christian witness is to do the will of God everyday and in every way regardless of the persecution or the outcome.
Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most respected leaders of modern history. A Hindu, Gandhi nevertheless admired Jesus and often quoted from the Sermon on the Mount. Once when the missionary E. Stanley Jones met with Gandhi he asked him, “Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?”
Gandhi replied, “Oh, I don’t reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Apparently Gandhi's rejection of Christianity grew out of an incident that happened when he was a young man practicing law in South Africa. He had become attracted to the Christian faith, had studied the Bible and the teachings of Jesus, and was seriously exploring becoming a Christian. And so he decided to attend a church service. As he came up the steps of the large church where he intended to go, a white South African elder of the church barred his way at the door. “Where do you think you’re going, kaffir?” the man asked Gandhi in a belligerent tone of voice. Gandhi replied, “I’d like to attend worship here.”
The church elder snarled at him, “There’s no room for Kaffirs in this church. Get out of here or I’ll have my assistants throw you down the steps.” From that moment, Gandhi said, he decided to adopt what good he found in Christianity, but would never again consider becoming a Christian if it meant being part of the church. Source: information reported at pursuingchrist.com
We began a conversation a number of weeks ago about what gives us meaning in this life and I suggested that the question is actually a mute point for those who call themselves Christian because if we believe that Christ came, died and rose again then we must also live out this reality. To live out this belief we are called to become a witness for Christ. An impossible role without the acceptance of the Holy Spirit, the power of God offered by the Holy Spirit for the single intent of glorifying the Lord through a commitment to live as a person who publicly declares a belief in, an adherence to, and an obedience coupled with resolve to share the good news of Jesus Christ for one’s life.
Today, I’d like to bring one final characteristic of a witness – success. But what does a win look like for Christ? To Christ? For the kingdom Jesus declared? Is success a bigger church building? A bigger Sunday school? A larger collection? A reputation in the community? A memorable Sunday morning service? No. All of those are byproducts of winning for Christ. God wins when individuals make a commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord, do the will of our Lord, are taught the intricacies of our cause and withstand the criticisms of those who are bound to come. Please make no mistake. Being a witness for Jesus will bring opposition. It has too. We propose a different way of interacting with the world around us. We will make others uncomfortable. However, some will gravitate towards this new way because it fills the hole in the soul while others will investigate the claims and not connect. Our role is to live His will, share and teach what it means to be a Christian witness.
Luke’s writing near the end of Acts make it clear. Paul never lessened the impact on one’s life a change in belief would have. We left Paul in jail in Caesarea last week; he was finally transferred to Rome after a 3 month detour when the boat he was traveling on sunk. He is now under house arrest waiting trial. Even in the final days in Rome, He never sugar coats the truth of God’s unfailing love for all his creation. Let’s listen in as Luke describes what Paul was dealing with in the early church. If you have a bible, please open to Acts 28:17…
17 Three days later he called together the local Jewish leaders. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. 18 They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death. 19 The Jews objected, so I was compelled to make an appeal to Caesar. I certainly did not intend to bring any charge against my own people.20 For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.” 21 They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of our people who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you. 22 But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.”