A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Power of Personal Testimony: 1 John 1:1-3

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched-- this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you may also have fellowship with us.

The writer of 1 John states in no uncertain terms right from the beginning why his testimony concerning Jesus should be believed: he was there, he witnessed the life and ministry of Jesus personally. John heard Jesus with his own ears, he saw Jesus with his own eyes, and he touched with his hands the one whom he refers to as the Word of life. This story is not being passed down second-hand; it is not based on vague recollections from people long removed from the events. It is certainly not the case that the testimony concerning Jesus was embellished to make the story more credible. It is rather non-sensical to believe that Jesus had such an impact on his first followers as he was, but stories had to be made-up to make him larger than life. It is safe to assume Jesus gained his following in the first place because he was indeed larger than life; no such mythological PR was necessary.

Throughout the centuries nothing has been more powerful and significant in convincing unbelievers that Jesus is Lord than personal testimony-- testimony that can trace the truth back to the ministry of Jesus and the testimony of a changed life. Christians clearly stand on firm ground in reference to the former, we have sadly failed all too often in reference to the latter.

How absolutely essential it is for Christians to embody the character of Jesus in their lives. There are no shortcomings more damaging to the cause of Christ in this world than the shortcomings that stem from lack of integrity. Such failings lead people to question if indeed the Gospel is true, or at the very least, they question whether in fact we truly believe what we confess.

Of course, it is the case that none of us is perfect. We are going on to perfection, but we are not there yet; but I do think this is the issue. Most non-Christians I have known do not reject the faith because believers aren't perfect; but they are bothered by what they so often see as a consistent lack of character in the lives of those who profess Christ and who claim that it is good for others. In other words, the problem is not with people of character who, at times, are inconsistent; it is with those Christians whose character is consistently inconsistent. It is a matter of degree.

In 3:18, John states, "let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." It is in embodying the life of Jesus in our lives, that we will gain a hearing when we testify to the Word of life that has come into our lives and changed us.

We are in Christ; we must become who we are.

1 comment:

Ted M. Gossard said...

A powerful post, Allan. And so spot on (if I can use the phrase of the younger generation; am I getting old, or what?)

Yes. They need to see the reality of God in Christ in our lives. In our words, actions, making God's love evident to them.

Well spoken, and a good sermon (again) there.

I do think worldly philosophy antithetical to the kingdom of God come, in Christ, undermines so many well meaning Christians. They seek to live godly, but they follow currents that, for them, seem acceptable, from this world. And I'm sure I'm not excluded from this. To be aware of it, is probably half the battle.