You Will Be My Witnesses—Into the Unknown

Acts 1:6-11 (NIV)

What does it mean to be a witness? How are you at witnessing? Does it make you uncomfortable? Or are you just so filled with the Holy Spirit that it simply flows out of you? How do you feel about witnessing? Is it imposing your religion on others? Is it scary? Is it a turnoff and so you don’t do it at all?

You know, when I attended high school during football games the crowds would chant, “We’ve got spirit, yes we do, we’ve got spirit how about you?” Then whoever shouted the loudest, well, they were right—they had the most spirit. It became a contest to see who could shout the loudest. Because we all know whoever shouts the loudest is right, right?

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

 The early church tried to explain and describe the Holy Spirit. God is with us moving in our lives—guiding, inspiring, nudging us.

In the scripture, Jesus is instructing the apostles. He tells them to stay put until the Holy Spirit comes upon them. He tells them they will be his witnesses. I’m going to challenge you to be a witness like the ordinary people known as the disciples. They were filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus gave them hope to witness.

Jesus said in verse 8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Who are the people in your life that’s been a witness? Miss Rae was a witness in my life as was my Aunt Ruby. They lived their faith. Miss Rae came into our lives when my mother met her on a trip to the Holy Land. She loved people. She was humble. She lived modestly. She encapsulated what is good in a person. I loved her dearly. My Aunt Ruby taught me to love all people. She had a forgiving nature I’ve always envied. I strive each day to have that type of forgiveness in my heart. I do struggle with it. I can hear Aunt Ruby right now saying, “Remember, Regina, Matthew told us if we don’t forgive others their trespasses, neither will our Father forgive our trespasses. You don’t want that do you?” She was generous with her time and her gifts. She never turned her back on those in need. I loved her dearly.

            Do you have spirit? I bet you do.

John Wesley, six days before his death, wrote a letter on February 24, 1791, to William Wilberforce addressing slavery.

It reads:

Dear Sir:

Unless the divine power has raised you up to be as Athanasius contra Mundum, I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that execrable villainy which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God is for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well-doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.

Reading this morning a tract wrote by a poor African, I was particularly struck by that circumstance, that a man who has a black skin, being wronged or outraged by a white man, can have no redress; it being a “law” in our colonies that the oath of a black against a white goes for nothing. What villainy is this?

That He who has guided you from youth up may continue to strengthen you in this and all things, is the prayer of, dear sir,

Your affectionate servant, John Wesley

John Wesley knew that our God is a God of all. William Wilberforce was an 18th-century abolitionist—a young politician who would go on to spend much of his political life fighting for the abolition of the slave trade.

Before this letter to Wilberforce, and before Wesley understood the treatment of slaves, he only thought the treatment should be improved since he felt it was appalling. But he didn’t think of it as a crime. Later he met John Newton, once a slave trader who was converted. However, neither of the two, Newton or Wesley thought they needed to oppose slavery. Until…they read Anthony Benezet’s historical account of slavery. Benezet, an American Quaker, wrote in great detail about the reality of slavery.

Horrified by Benezet’s account, Wesley wrote a paper of his thoughts on slavery, published in 1774. If you remember your history, John Newton wrote the wonderful song, “Amazing Grace.”

This proves that one witness inspired another witness can go on to do great things. Spirit-filled witnesses have a positive force about them.

What’s the essence of your witnessing? Is it to attack or is it to comfort with your message? How has God moved in your life? The best part is that you can witness with your words or you can witness with your actions. Just remember—actions speak louder than words.The essence of witnessing is Jesus—the power of His resurrection and the blessing of the Holy Spirit. What is your message? Your story? Your witness?

 Do you find that God nudges us to the point of being disturbed? To walk outside of our comfort zone? To witness. To walk into the unknown? I know He does this to me all the time.

Where do you go to witness? Well, you start at home. Then you go to the next place and the next and then to the ends of the earth. What does it mean to witness and to inspire using the gifts that God has given us?

Can we actually go into the unknown and witness? YIKES!! Going into the unknown is so scary. It’s like the disciples going into Samaria. You know those unworthy people. Those people who rejected Jesus. Hard to witness to the unworthy people, isn’t it? Thing is, there are no unworthy people.

It means going even further—to the ends of the earth. This is what Jesus told his disciples. Go and witness. Even if you must go to the ends of the earth. It’s a difficult task to be sure but a necessary one. I’m sure the disciples were scared out of their minds. But Jesus told them if they were filled with the Holy Spirit it would make them strong in their faith and their resolve.

Photo by Soroush Alavi on Unsplash

Be open to the Holy Spirit to tell the goodness of Jesus Christ.

We have spirit, yes, we do!

We’ve got spirit!

How about you?

And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!