I was privileged to get to share my testimony with a small church we have been attending. We are in a week long “revival” according the program. I say that because I am not sure I buy into the revival concept. You have to be vived to be revived. I like words like transformed and revolution. But that’s another rant.
Anyway it got me to thinking that our testimony, if you will, can be quite powerful. It can inspire, validate and bring confidence to the body as well as those who have not yet believed. However if our “events” or “experiences” over shadow what God has done FOR, IN, TO and THROUGH us, is it really something we need to be sharing with others? I typically see two, maybe three categories that testimonies fall into. I don’t have names for them yet but they go something like this.
T-mony #1: “I grew up in a broken home, I did and sold drugs. I partied and got drunk a lot…(fill in shock value paraphernalia here) ” This usually takes about 10 minutes, embellishing all the horrific travesty in our lives. Then……the money phrase “there was this one guy that told me about Jesus and then I got saved..um..yea….so…like…anyways…um…cool…yea…..so now I am like a Christian and stuff…thanks.”
T-mony #2: “I grew up in a great Christian home. My parents loved me, I accepted Christ when I was like 5 or something, (and then they add the “bad kid” embellishment so you don’t get bored or think they were pansies) And like so I drank(tears) a lot (more tears) and really turned my back on my parents and on God. Then like this thing (devastation, usually a C on a report card) made me think there was more to life and so now I am like…um….yeah….um…cool…yea…so…anyways….I am on fire for God now and yea…its cool…thanks”
T-mony #3 …….Add T#1 and T#2 and you get T#3. Great Christian home, rebelled hardcore(for real) and then someone shared the Gospel with them then “…um…like…yea…so…cool…anyway….now I am saved and stuff so…yea…thanks”
Now don’t get your drawers in a bunch just yet. I am not saying that our story is not important, it is! Scriptures put it this way in 1 Thessalonians 2:
6We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, 7but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. 8We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. 9Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. (NIV)
The danger comes I believe, when our embellishments do not point directly to what God has brought you out of, and what His grace through faith has done for you. Sometimes our desire to inspire manifests in how well we can tell “our story” and our testimony becomes anti-climactic with, “and then I was saved”. We miss an incredible moment to “share not only our lives, but the gospel of God.” Paul makes it clear that we share the gospel first as well as our lives. All because we love you.
I say all of this because as I was preparing my testimony, God placed it on my heart to ensure that the Gospel was center of my life story. I pray that I did it right, lest I say “My hypocrisy knows no bounds”
What say you?