A First Century Witness for a 21st Century World

I was attending a dinner for college students and their parents on the night before these students would be leaving for a two-week mission trip to Russia. It was a time for parents to meet each other, to receive last-minute instructions and to pray.
The college students then began giving their personal witness as to why they would go on such a mission trip. Each one was inspiring. One especially captured my attention as this handsome young man said, “I just finished reading Dawson Trotman’s biography. One day someone asked him: ‘What’s on your mind?’ He replied, ‘The world.'”
This young man said, “I want the world to be on my mind. I want to make the kind of witness that can help people live most effectively in this world and live eternally in the kingdom God has prepared.”
These young college students had the vision to make a positive witness to our world. They caused me to ask some questions about how that witness can be made locally and globally.
The last command of Jesus was to go into the world and make disciples. The last command of Jesus ought to be the first concern of the church today.
The world has changed drastically during the past 2,000 years. The witness is still the same. While we live in a changing world, an unchanging element is the witness that is made.
The methodology of the witness changes, but the message and mission of the witness never changes.
A good insight comes from Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. It was a first century witness that is valid for the 21st century world.
Our Witness Requires Proper Perspective
First, look at the perspective. Paul said, “I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, but I came proclaiming my testimony of God” (v. 1). Paul’s witness was not made in a manner that used difficult words or a hard-to-understand theological position or a display of knowledge. It was not a witness that was made down to people. The best witness is made when we communicate with people on their level.
Look at the witness of Jesus. He didn’t use big words. When He taught, He used parables. He used object lessons. He spoke so simply even children could understand Him, yet what He said was so profound the greatest mind couldn’t totally comprehend it. Jesus spoke simply.
In Acts 4:13, Peter and John had healed a man. The people couldn’t understand how people such as them could do that. They were described as being uneducated and untrained, yet they were demonstrating the power of God. The best witness isn’t based on being extremely articulate or utilizing superior words but is one that communicates, “Let me share my testimony of God with you.”
My father was the greatest preacher I ever heard. He preached until he was 94 years old. One of the greatest compliments I’ve heard was from a gentleman who recently said, “John Ed, your daddy is the best preacher I ever heard. He knows how to put the hay down where the horses can get it.”


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