I’ve been thinking about the idea of sharing our “testimony”. It is a Christianese word to label your salvation story – how you met Jesus. But the dictionary gives a fuller meaning of the word:
- It is a statement or declaration made by a witness, under oath, usually in court
- It is evidence or proof of a fact or statement
- An open declaration or profession (as of faith)
- The precepts of God – the tablets where God wrote the law
So really it is much bigger than one story. As a Christian I think there are three aspects to consider.
- First – that those who see me, who are witness to my life, have a testimony about what they see. Do the people around me see Jesus? I’m challenged with something I heard as a teenager, written about the New Testament church- they turned the world upside down. Through their love for each other and for other people they had a testimony. People were their witness.
- Secondly, can I articulate (not necessarily to a crowd, but at least to my children) what God has done – can we be God’s witness.
- And thirdly, can we declare that we trust God, that we put our faith in Him?
When we label our God stories as a Testimony we take away the naturalness of it. We think there is a proper and right structure and delivery. The New Testament church, didn’t have Google to tell them how to put together a testimony – they simply shared from their overflowing love for Jesus. They were changed people and they lived that way – they no longer were constrained by the constraints of society, but rather directed and motivated by the love of Jesus. They could both live a different life and talk about their faith and trust in Jesus.
I don’t want to elevate the New Testament church to an ideal – because we only have the stories (the testimonies) of a handful of Christians. There were a lot of Marys, Ruths, Rebeccas, Peters, Marks, Jacobs who we don’t know about – people whose life was turned around by meeting Jesus. I am sure, 100% sure, that there was a large proportion of those people who didn’t like public speaking, who never had an opportunity to speak to a crowd (and were probably thankful for that!!) My point isn’t that we all need to be like Paul who was able to articulate his journey, we don’t all need to be like Stephen who preached up a storm but we do all need to recognise that we have a testimony.
- God has done something for each of us.
- We have a faith and trust in Jesus.
Regardless of who else we meet during our week, our children are our first call. They are the ones we live with day in and day out. Do we share what God has done for us, in us, with us, with our kids? Last night as I went to bed I wrote a list of some of the stories (some of the testimonies) I would like for my children to know. I’m not going to share them here, maybe one day I’ll do that, but the purpose of this newsletter is to encourage you to start talking with your kids about the things that God has done, or is doing in your life, to talk about not just who God is, but what he means to you.
My list includes:
- My understanding of my salvation; I woke this morning with Amazing Grace in my head
- Pivotal lessons I’ve learnt that have shaped my relationship with God
- Specific decisions I’ve made along the way, and how they changed my actions/choices at the time
- Times where I’ve seen God’s intervention in my life
- Times where God has answered my prayers – and times where he hasn’t
- Stories of hard times and how I’ve walked through those
- Specific scriptures that are important to me – they’ve shaped me, guided me, helped me
As you can see – it’ll be a while till I run out of ‘fodder’ to talk about. But there was one other challenge that pricked my heart: Do I have something to share about my relationship with God – today. Not yesterday, though that is an important part of my relationship – but today.
Our testimony is not simply a history lesson – back in the day – it is to be that, but it is also to be a sharing of our relationship with God today. What is he doing, today? What is he saying, today? What’s my response, today? These are the things that we can share with our kids.
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