Summary: This is the first in a 5 part series on becoming a witness for Christ. This sermon focuses on developing a desire to be a witness.
You Shall Be My Witnesses
Pt 1 ¡V Developing a Desire
You shall be my witnesses. Those words mark the beginning of the Christian Church. They mark the heart of the church. They represent the calling, purpose, and potential of the church. They also mark the greatest shortcoming in the church today. Of all the things we are and things we do I¡¦m afraid that being witnesses is often not at the top of the list. Today¡¦s church is long on programs, entertainment, fellowship, and talk ¡V but too often short on results. The truth is that God has made us fishers of men ¡V but we aren¡¦t really interested in fishing. We are interested in watching people fish ¡V encouraged when we see people fish ¡V and excited when we see a fish caught ¡V but most Christians today have never even dropped a line in the water. According to the Barna Research Group only 35% of adult Christians believe they have a responsibility to share their faith with others. When we are sharing our faith we do it in comfortable ways ¡V offering to pray for someone who is in need or leaving a tract at the table with the tip. (By the way if you are a trac leaver behinder ¡V make sure you leave a really good tip)
What I want to share with you over the next few weeks is a 101 class in becoming a witness for Christ. These are the basics that I hope will help you gain the confidence to cast a line into the water.
The first step in the process is developing a desire. Until about 5 or 6 years ago I never thought much about deer hunting. I was raised hunting for birds and quite honestly never got a lot out of it. Hours spent walking behind dogs through fields and forests trying to keep up with my long legged father. But a few years back Rob Hess introduced me to deer hunting. Taught me some basics and set me on an adventure that now has me hooked. Now I get up before dawn ¡V sit in a freezing cold treestand ¡V and wait for hours for a chance to get a shot off at one of these elusive critters. My addiction has spread from the two weeks of rifle season now back into October and on into January as Archery has become my new sport of choice. The point is that for me to get up early or hunt late ¡V a desire had to form inside me. If you don¡¦t want to ¡V you won¡¦t. It¡¦s as true for witnessing as it is for hunting. So how does the desire to witness happen in us? I believe desire happens in several ways ¡V it¡¦s Implanted, Inspired, and Invited. Let¡¦s look at these together.
1) Desire is Implanted ¡V I think we need to be a people who pray that God will implant within us a desire to do His will. We are constantly doing battle with that part of us that is selfish, self-centered, and self-motivated. It¡¦s the part of us that likes the status quo and is content to know that we are OK. There are several ways that God implants a desire in us to witness.
„« Compulsion ¡V Look at Jeremiah as an example. In Jeremiah 20:8 he says ¡§But if I say, ¡§I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,¡¨ Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones;¡¨. For Jeremiah there was a compulsion to share with people the heart of God. That¡¦s true for me. Take me out of the pulpit for a couple of weeks and I can¡¦t stand it anymore. The truth is that there is nothing I could do in life other than this and be happy ¡V it¡¦s what God made me.
„« Heart Change ¡V Look at Acts 4:18. Peter and John have just spent the night in jail for the healing of a lame man. They are warned not to preach the name of Jesus anymore. Remember that these are the same men who ran from Gethsemane ¡V the same Peter who denied Jesus in the courtyard but now something has changed. Now these lambs are lions. Seeing the risen Christ has changed their hearts.
„« Gratitude ¡V Blind Bartamaeus, countless lame, blind, deaf, and lepers ¡V all healed by Jesus and all felt compelled to share their joy with others. Jesus would tell them to remain silent but something about being healed compelled them to share with others.
Through the broken heart, the transformed heart, and the grateful heart we are compelled by and inner need to witness about the one who has set us free.