I’ve had a conviction hovering over my head for the past few months. It started out as an “I can’t quite put my finger on it feeling” that I was getting, and grew from there to a “you are missing something huge” feeling. I’ve also, for the past year or more, felt like I wanted to do a study of Acts but found it a little daunting. Being the noncommittal human that I am, I never came up with a plan to go through the book that shows us the beginning stages of how the church grew, how the original disciples just spoke truth about Jesus and saw millions of people around the world come to know Him in a very short amount of time. It is chapters and chapters long, story after story of the miracles being performed in those first days after Christ’s death and ascension. Finally it was thrust upon me by church. Dear Passion City church, we are doing a study of Acts this summer; and my ears perked up. I guess I am committed now to the book of Acts, because like most things it has to be force fed to me before I will accept it.
Acts has been the illuminator, the decoder for that feeling that I’m missing a major point. Acts is all about witnessing, telling what Jesus has done, telling what God has done through Him. It’s about telling. When the people spoke, just saying the truth of what happened to them, to tell their story and wrap it in with old prophecies and promises, it cut to the heart of everyone they were speaking to and thousands came to know Jesus. All throughout the bible, new and Old Testament, the power of testimony is highlighted. When you tell people what God has done, people come to know Him.
I sit down to pray with bible in hand and am so thankful for my story. My story of rejection, brokenness, generational sin, a fatherless girl becoming whole, sought after, and restored. My family, my relationship – all of it touched by brokenness, seemingly irreparable. I can’t number the amount of times I was praying for a way out of how I felt and of my circumstances, for healing that I knew couldn’t come, that I knew was impossible; the idea looming over my head daily that my situation was impossible. It wouldn’t be fixed, I would just learn to deal. I had no understanding about the way I felt and why I had to feel that way. I felt that way for years. I have close to a thousand pages of journal entries that attest to my brokenness, despair, lack of understanding, questioning, and pain. Those journal entries also attest to the unraveling God was doing of my heart, of the layers He was peeling back and revealing to me, of the faith and strength He was growing in me, and how He was sweetly marveling me and speaking to me. All of these things that built me are fresh on my mind and fill my heart with thankfulness, yet when people ask me about how I got where I am, or how my boyfriend and I got back together, or what happened, or about how my family is doing and what my life is like, my response is that everything is really good. I don’t go into detail about all the work that the Lord did to get it there, and what a miracle it is that I can say that everything is good, that I am whole. That the cracked lens I was viewing my life through is no longer cracked. That lies and questions no longer circulate in my head but that truth resounds. I don’t go into detail; I just tell them it’s good with a beaming smile on my face because being able to say that it’s good in and of itself to me is still something to be so joyful over. The testimony and the story that God was weaving together since the day I came into the world under a banner of rejection is buried down for the most part, only to be rejoiced over with close friends. Testimony, the way that we show the work of God to other people in our lives, that I am keeping to myself.
Acts 1:8 says You shall be witness to me. Witnessing is a powerful and crucial part of growing God’s kingdom. Throughout history and in years to come, people have been and will be beheaded, attacked, ridiculed, mocked, beaten, killed for their witness and for attesting to who Christ is. I’m not in danger of losing my life for witnessing; I hold back because I don’t want to make people uncomfortable, or because I am afraid of what they’ll think about my intellect by me accrediting things to the work of God. I keep my testimony to myself for fear of being thought small minded.
Isaiah 43:7 tells us that God has created us, formed us, for His glory. Verse 10 says “You are my witnesses….and my servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe me and understand that I am He. Before me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me”. Verse 21 says” This people I have formed for myself; they shall declare my praise”. Romans 3:25-26 tells us that He uses us to demonstrate His righteousness by being the just and the justifier. And my lips are sealed about the ways that I know Him because I’m afraid to speak and I’m afraid of the fact that people don’t understand. The testimony being wasted, when I know the years of unraveling and rebuilding were not meant to just strengthen my own faith.
Jesus tells us in scripture that the world will disagree with us, that believers will be hated, and we are. Yet we shy away from the hate. We close our mouths because of a longing to be liked, and to live as conflict free as possible. I haven’t been stepping into witnessing, to speaking openly about Christ, out of fear. Shouldn’t this be a sign to us to push forward if we can feel the fear of being disliked? Fear is to be followed. The founders of our religion, the original disciples, almost all of them were killed because of their message, their testimony about what God had done. When I live inwardly and don’t speak about what He has done for me, I am nullifying Isaiah 43:7-10 in my own life: that He would form me and mold me, and let me know Him in order for me to bring Him glory.
It’s hard to openly speak about Christ, or really any religious conviction when the world around us loves to not stand for anything except complete inclusion and acceptance of any broad minded idea, excluding any idea that conflicts with the idea that everything goes. People with strong moral convictions are harassed and looked down on. If you don’t think this is true then you don’t read modern media, or buzzfeed articles. To have multiple on multiple sexual encounters is encouraged, and to think that that could be harmful for a person spiritually and emotionally is an antiquated idea to our modern society. To have an issue with abortion is to be a sexist woman hater who wants to oppress the rights of women, wrap an apron around them and throw them in the kitchen. Our society hates Christianity and having to do anything more or outside of what is good for one’s self. It is not welcomed, it’s ideals are not welcomed. Most people focus on the vehement rejection of the notion of sin (and that there is a black and white wrong and right), and less on the fact that to follow Christ means to love every human being as they are and bearing the burdens of other people as your own. It’s to never get revenge but instead give forgiveness. It is self enlightenment and a seeking after God to reveal the flaws of your own heart so that you can 1. Glorify God, and 2. Love people well. That’s what my religion is supposed to be about. Glorifying God and loving people. It’s twisted, through people bearing the flag of Christianity who have never put it into practice a day in their life and are a bad representation (just like with any religion or race that gets demonized and classified by the actions or words of few), and through the fact that the world has always hated it’s message, and will continue to do so. The message of Christ doesn’t need to be shared any louder and stronger; it just needs to be shared period.