Articulating My Witness
Over the course of the last six months I’ve devoted most of my time to understanding and shaping a coherent understanding of discipleship. I’ve tried to balance the interior work of the Spirit, sanctification, with the exterior work of mercy, justice and compassion. This effort has been essentially constructive, bringing together so much of my life and ministry over the last decade. While it has been a painstaking effort, it has also been quite fruitful.
One element that is essential to the life of discipleship is the active witness one disciple can make to the transforming work of the Spirit in and through a relationship with Christ. I’ve spoken of this in terms of making an authentic witness. The definition is that a person bears witness to their own story of how they experience Christ. An individual story doesn’t supplant the Gospel story; instead, it is an extension of the story. A spiritually maturing witness to what Christ is doing to bring healing, new life and hope in a person’s life can be much more effective and powerful than a witness that is given out of a written script. This witness doesn’t eschew the Scriptural witness; rather it effectively re-presents the Good News as it has been revealed in a specific person’s life.
It strikes me today that if I’m going to call my congregation to understand an articulate this sort of authentic witness in the world, I’d better be able to give them an example of how it’s done. So here goes a first draft of my witness:
I’ve spent the better portion of my life pursuing a well defined understanding of theology and scripture. It has been important for me to be able to talk about the God I’ve come to know through the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in ways that are practical, articulate and invitational. I’ve always known that God was more about opening doors to deeper understanding rather than creating obstacles. This pursuit has been more an academic pursuit and a practical pursuit than a personal pursuit. Not that I haven’t been completely divested from a personal involvement and experience of the pursuit. I’ve had throughout my life what I’d consider to be significant “spiritual experiences”. Most of these experiences were more random in nature. They were happy occurrences that came along with any variety of experiences.
What I’ve come to realize is that these experiences were anything but random occurrences. In fact they were bread crumbs along my journey. The bread crumbs led me to the Academy for Spiritual Formation that provided a framework for me to take my interior spiritual journey in a considerably more intentional way. As I have learned to be more intention in my relationship with Christ, no longer am I simply going from bread crumb to bread crumb. Through a more disciplined life of spiritual practices, I’m experiencing a deeper intimacy with God. As I’ve grown in my intimacy with God, I’ve been opened to incredible experiences of healing for hurts that I’ve struggled with most of my life. With the healing has come great trust in the promises of God that were given so completely in Christ: resurrection, eternal life and a life of discipleship. I find myself able to proclaim with a depth and confidence that is far beyond what I once could muster that Jesus is the Christ. I can say that a life lived in relationship with Christ is the pathway to life that is eternal not in quantity only but also in quality.
As Robert Frost wrote so many years ago, it may seem like the road less travelled but I can say that for me…taking that road has made all the difference.