Hey Christian, “witness” might not mean what you think it means

10 Jun

We Christians use a lot of lingo.  This lingo is insider talk, words and phrases that most of us understand if we have been in churches for a number of years, but newcomers or anyone else might find this lingo confusing.  Some have even dubbed it “Christianese”.

Not sure what I’m talking about?  A friend recently directed me to this video that will introduce you to Christianese.

As you can see in the video, there are loads of Christian words and phrases that are classified as Christianese.  One was not mentioned in the video, and I would like to talk about it because Jesus talks about it in our final section of our series studying through Luke: Luke 24:36-53.  Read it and see if you can figure out which word is the lingo word.  Or just sneak a peek at the title of this post…

“Witness” is one of those Christian lingo words. In the Lancaster County town of Quarryville, for years there was a Christian Music Festival called Witness.  So perhaps when those of you from Lancaster think of the word “witness” the sounds and images of that concert are what comes to mind.  But there is a much more widespread way that Christians talk about “witness” and the act of “witnessing”.

When a Christian says the phrase “we are witnessing,” because of the way I was raised and because of my college and mission experiences, what comes to mind is people going out to share the Gospel with strangers.  Usually when you witness you have Bible tracts that you hand out.  You have memorized verses and what is called “the plan of salvation” so that you can encounter strangers on the street, or in the mall, or out and about, maybe on a college campus, wherever people are, and you can ask them if you can talk with them about Jesus.  And you hope that you can get into a conversation and share that plan of salvation with them, or at least hand them a tract that they can read later.  Most people don’t want to be bothered, and you come to expect that, but you hope to talk to at least a few.  This is what I was raised to call “witnessing.”  Is that the witnessing that Jesus is talking about here?  Nope.

There is another way we Christians use the word “witness.” And that is when we say that if you go to watch a particular movie like 50 Shades of Grey, or if you wear an immodest dress, or if you go to a bar, or read a certain book, or you name it, that behavior will ruin your Christian witness.  It is the idea that our witness is our reputation.  If we don’t have a particular kind of reputation, we won’t be credible in our attempt to talk about Jesus.  At the core, I agree.  Christians should practice what we preach.  But too often a Christian “witness” can become a very legalistic rules-based approach to following Jesus.  So is that the witnessing Jesus is talking here?  Nope.

Hey Christian, “witness” doesn’t mean what we have been told it means.  So what does “witness” mean?  Why does Jesus talk about when he gives his final instructions to his disciples?

Join us this coming Sunday, June 12th at Faith Church at 9:30am to learn more!

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