WITNESS AND HEALING
No man is an island. We were called by God to live in union with Him and with one another. Paul writes that we are the Body of Christ. We are one Body in Christ and members one of another. Witness has to do with the affirmation of my own healing and the building up of the faith of the community.
Sharing our witness with one another opens the way for God to unfold the revelation of His love for those who are able to receive our witness. At the same time we reinforce our own faith in the reality of God's present power and love in the world.
WHAT IS WITNESS
A witness is not a testimonial to our goodness or our worthiness. It is a statement of our need and God's love. It is not a testimonial to a person, or a cult, or a book. It is a simple testimony to God's grace as He touches our need with His love.
Witness has a twofold nature. There is my witness to Jesus Christ and the things He has done in my life. Those are the things that I see and know, and relate to others with whom I would share His love. That is my witness to Him, and to His life and work in my life.
Jesus also said, "You shall be my witnesses.." Acts 1:8 I used to take that to mean the same thing until I began to see another aspect of witness. I met some people who had been in the presence of Mother Teresa, and they said, "When she walked into the room, the room changed." There is a sense in which He reveals Himself through those in whom He dwells. It is not their words, but His presence which is noticed by others.
To some extent, all of us who are His, and who have received Holy Spirit's work of incarnating Jesus in our flesh are His witnesses. To the extent that we are willing to be transparent, He can be seen. We become His presence for those whom He sends us to love. We learn to walk His talk, to BE His presence. Without this integrity, much of the verbal witness we share about Jesus is lost in our actions that seem to be in conflict with the one of whom we speak.
A witness is one who tells others what he has seen with his eyes, heard with his ears, and handled with his hands concerning the Word of Life. Witness is not a teaching of some dogma or doctrine. It is the data we derive from our engagement with God as we meet Him in the various times and places of our lives.
It is the sudden abating of pain when I have asked someone to pray for me. It is the peace that comes to me in the midst of some crisis of life. It is the touch that tells me that I have yet much to give to Him when I feel that I have the world by the tail. Witness is the relating of His hand in our life that we recognize as His love in some form drawing us closer to Him.
THE HEALING ASPECTS OF WITNESS
Witness has a twofold healing effect. It enables us to affirm that which we have known within ourselves as a true manifestation of God. When we share it with others, we give it objectivity. That which we sensed becomes more than subjective knowing. It becomes objective, incarnate in the words that I speak.
It gives me an affirmation of God's love for me. It is my receiving His gift to me more completely and openly in my life. It is the escape from concern that someone is going to think that I am a bit of a fanatic, and my own affirmation that I will rest my life in the One who has touched it with His love.
My witness when it is shared in the community of faith is one more foundation stone of our common life. It is the reminder that the One who is the Sure Foundation is in our midst, loving us into the wholeness He has prepared for us.
There are times when our witness is the word that someone else needs to dare to open some area of their own life to God's love. It is a ray of hope to one who is on the verge of despair. It is a flash of revelation that someone needs to see the path.
TO WHOM DO WE WITNESS
We share that first with the Christian community in which we know and worship Jesus. It is for our experience of articulation of God's love, and the building up of the community where there will be no concern over our being a fanatic or a bit batty. It is where we try our sharing.
We then share it with anyone with whom Holy Spirit leads us to share. There are some with whom we are not to share. As we become accustomed to being led by the Spirit, we will know when and where and what to share that He may use us and use our witness as the presence of Jesus.
THE NATURE OF OUR WITNESS
Witness is not intended to enhance our own self image. Witness moves from our weakness to God's love and power to make us whole. Witness does not speak of what I have done for God, but what God has done for me. It does not in any way indicate that I deserve what I received from God. It indicates rather that God's love reaches out beyond my unrighteousness, and bridges the gap with His love.
I do not share witness openly that would hurt any other person by the story that goes with it. I avoid the confession of other people's sins, and I focus on what God has done about mine.
It is easy for me to talk about my alcohol problem and God's resolution of it. It is easy for me talk about my anger, and God's dealing with it. It is easy for me to talk about a multitude of other things that were my fault and His healing love.
I can talk about being reared in a dysfunctional family, but not in a way that blames my dysfunction on the family. It is rather a matter of talking about my being able to bring my dysfunction to God for His healing touch.
I keep my story as one in which I can claim my own dis ease, so that I might also claim my own healing from God as He touches with His healing love. I tell it like it is, so that God is the One who receives the glory and not me. It is His glory that has touched me, not mine.
Finally, a story that remains untold may also get lost in the interior of our memories where it has not been given objectivity by sharing. So Witness is the way we assure that we make God known for the healing love He shows us, and preserve that reality for ourselves and those who hear.
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