We wrapped up our God’s Not Dead Wednesday night series this week. The series has given us a great opportunity to ask about Christianity’s place in culture and to explore our responsibility as Christians to be witnesses in an increasingly secular culture.
When we say we want to be witnesses, what do we mean? What we say we want someone to give their testimony, what do we mean? What are we witnesses to? What can we give testimony about? “Witness” and “testimony” are words that come from a courtroom. They meant in Jesus’ time and mean today that we are called to give a firsthand, honest, credible account of what we have seen and heard.
And what exactly is it that we are supposed to have seen and heard? Just like the first Christians, we are called to testify as witnesses to the resurrection. We are called to be people who can speak convincingly and truthfully about our experience of and relationship with the risen Christ. We are called to be people who can say, “I have seen the risen Lord.”
That’s not language we’re always comfortable using at dinner parties or in the bleachers at the little league game. It can be hard to share the gospel. It’s easy to slide around our discomfort by saying, “People will see by my example.” Or they’ll know I’m a Christian because of all the syrupy Christian stuff I share on Facebook. Or I’ve got my Wieuca sticker on my car. Or my friends know I go to church.
When people ask us why we go to church, we come up with all kinds of answers. The music is awesome. I really like the preacher’s messages. They’ve got great programs for my children. We’ve always gone there. The people are so nice. It makes me feel better about myself. It’s a good way to start the week.
We go to church for a lot of reasons. There’s just one problem with our responses. We’re not called to be witnesses to great children’s programs or energetic music or an engaging preacher or even witnesses to a supportive Christian community. We’re called to be witnesses to a resurrected Christ.
So why do you go to church? Because I have seen the risen Lord. Why is church so important to you? Because of my relationship with a resurrected Savior. Why are you a Christian? How can you believe that stuff? Because of my personal experience with a living God.
We can get so worked up about things like the war on Christmas or taking God out of out of our schools. And we can get downright angry about secular politicians trampling on our religious freedoms or perceived slights to our religious traditions in the broader culture.
But here’s the real question: When’s the last time you exercised the religious liberty we get so fired up about protecting? By say, inviting your neighbor to church? Offering to share your testimony with a co-worker? Writing your congressman to express your Christ-inspired perspective on poverty or homelessness or war or health care or education or prison reform or the sanctity of life or creation care or anything else? Forget about praying in a public school, how about just praying for our public schools?
We have tremendous freedoms to worship as we choose in this country; to share our faith publicly; to not be discriminated against for our religious practices; to be witnesses who give testimony about our experience with a risen Savior.
So here’s a challenge. Invite someone to church with you this Sunday. And the next time someone asks you about your church, don’t just make some comment about what a nice place it is. As nice as church programs can be, they don’t ultimately provide the hope, meaning, direction and purpose our friends and neighbors and co-workers are looking for. You are God’s witnesses. Take the opportunity to share a firsthand account of resurrection.