What Does “Witnessing” Look Like?

Monday I was out mowing the lawn on the steep hill in front of our house.  Back and forth under and around the trees, sweating.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw two pairs of women with young girls, Bibles in hand, making their way down our street, stopping at each house.  Jehovah’s Witnesses.  With invitations.

DSC00428

I thought, “Ugh!  They have no relationship with me and they’re going to try to convert me.  I’m a challenge to them.  A project.  A name to add to their list.” (Christians would never do that! :))

My first inclination was to keep my head down and keep mowing, hoping that they’d take the hint and pass me by.  But then that pesky Holy Spirit reminded me of what I had been reading.  How I had been impressed by Phillip’s example of just asking a question of the Ethiopian who didn’t know Jesus (Acts 8) and how Jesus had modeled asking the question “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10)

In the past when these folks have come to my door some of my stressed-out-us-and-them thoughts have been…

  • Ohmygosh, now what is it again that they believe that’s different (read: “wrong”)?*
  • What are the key verses that would highlight where we’re different (read: “wrong”)?
  • How can I lead them to Jesus? (read: “show where they’re wrong and what’s right“)?

Instead, the Holy Spirit said “Offer them a drink.”

So I yelled down, “It’s hot out!  Would you like to sit and have something cold to drink?”

photo-31

They were delighted and astonished.  We sat on my front steps in the shade sipping icy water and pop and introduced ourselves.  They had fantastic names from the Bible like Shulamite and Priscilla.  I asked them about the stories behind their names.

We ended up having a lovely conversation, each of us sharing our favorite Bible stories and our favorite Bible verses.

We talked about what we had in common, not our differences.

I felt like we encouraged each other in our love of God.  We talked to each other as mutually beloved children of HIs.

We each knew we had differences.  But I didn’t tell them the “whole truth”.  I didn’t bring up Ephesians 2:8-9 or Colossians 2:9!  Apologetics 101 fail!

Was I denying the Great Commission?  Did I let Jesus down?  What does “witnessing” look like?  What are your thoughts?

*A few differences: Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in the Trinity or that Jesus was fully God.  They believe good works are necessary for salvation.

7 thoughts on “What Does “Witnessing” Look Like?

  1. Reminds me of Helmut Thielike, who said one of the joys of heaven will be the laughter at the sight of our theologies blowing down the street… but water to the stranger can bring angels to the house. Sure you just didn’t need a break from mowing (there’s a patch uncut)?

    Like

  2. Oh Laura, Thanks so much for these words. So often as a young Christian I was encouraged and even pushed to ‘witness.’ I felt so uncomfortable because it just didn’t ‘feel’ comfortable. I thought I must not be strong enough in my faith because if I was I would want to tell everyone what I believe and have them believe it as well. Now I know better. But most people still encourage us to do this as Christians and then we ridicule others for doing exactly what we encourage others to do. It is not our job to make people believe. That is God’s and the Holy Spirit and I want to let the Holy Spirit guide me in how to respond to others and allow that to be different for everyone. Patty (cheese)

    Like

    • Ahhh I know that pressure :)! “I want to let the Holy Spirit guide me in how to respond to others and allow that to be different for everyone.” Love that reminder that the Holy Spirit is personal and a hand-crafter, not a mass-producer. Thanks Cheese!

      Like

  3. God has impressed upon me lately that, ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit who convicts. Sometimes that process includes us and our words (explicitly stated differences of opinion), and sometimes that process includes us and our actions (simply put: love). This doesn’t absolve us from the responsibility of standing up for what we believe to be true, more generally, but it frees us from the erroneous assumption that its all up to us. Because it isn’t. I admire the openness in this – not just in what you chose to say or not say – but, perhaps most of all, that you created the space (availability) to make this conversation possible. Like the Samaritan – you weren’t too busy to notice. Even if you left a patch of grass uncut!

    Like

    • Thanks so much, Kari. These are wise words of yours! I believe you’re right that the challenge is discerning when words are called for in addition to action. Not absolving us from responsibility and making rationalizing ok, but like you said, recognizing the role of the Holy Spirit. Hard stuff!

      Like

  4. Way to go, Sis! You have provided me with the model to be Jesus to those that come to my door. Why do we have to make it so hard!?

    Like

I'd love to hear from you and others will be enriched by your thoughts! Share here and continue the conversation.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s