Saturday, March 29, 2014

Stuff Christians say . . . Hurting your Witness

So I see this all the time "that will hurt your witness" or "that will hurt your testimony."  I may have even said that from time to time.  I have been thinking about it and doing some study, and turns out, that is based in bad theology.

-Disclaimer, I'm not saying sin is ok!  Sin hurts you, makes you feel distance from God, hurts people around you and is generally bad.  It should be avoided, the Bible is clear it needs to be avoided.

What I want to tackle is the wrong view and attitude that causes us to say stuff that is. . . well wrong.  Does being fat, smoking cigars, drinking beer, driving badly or saying a curse word hurt your ability to share Christ?  Often we have said yes, but for that to be true, some other things would have to be true.

1.  Someone accepting Christ would depend on your ability to "sell" it.  Regardless of what some popular theology says, no one is saved without the work of the Holy Spirit.  Unless someone is touched by the Spirit and convicted of sin, they will not be saved.  The Spirit often moves through the words of a Christian speaking truth.  The Holy Spirit doesn't require you to speak, but God desires to partner and work with us, to grow our faith and build the body of Christ.  We believe we are much more important than we are.  We do not need to appear sinless to lead someone to Christ, in fact having a few flaws may help out.  We are not only forgiven, but in the process of being sanctified.  No matter how hard you try, it's going to be clear to everyone you are not there yet.

2.  Outsiders expect Christians to be perfect.  The only ones who expect us to be perfect is other Christians.  We don't give each other any grace at all.  I was once told that if I didn't shovel my walk, I was hurting the Church's reputation with the community.  One Christians would look down on a church for not having the walks at a house shoveled.  Only Christians (especially legalisms) would look at someone and condemn a whole church.  It goes right back to the leaders of the law looking down their nose at Jesus for hanging out with sinners.  Being overweight may be unhealthy, unattractive and make you not feel good, but the lost world isn't rejecting Christ because of your love handles.

3.  Telling others that they are hurting their witness will make them not sin.  NOPE, it keeps people from sharing.  People have told me "I won't put a fish on my car until I can stop speeding".  I'm not saying that is a bad idea "also not saying it's a good idea" but the reality is we don't stop sinning, we stop sharing.  Someone who struggles with drinking decides not to share with his drinking buddies.  Now, he should stop drinking if he feels convicted, but he should share with his drinking buddies what is going on.  Tell them, "I feel like I need to stop drinking because it's not good for me, my family or my wallet, and I feel like God is working on me in this area".  He then can share Christ with his friends and maybe they will even support him.  Being real is a great tool to share Christ, being perfect has never been a prerequisite, ever.

So, we need to think about the stuff we say, especially when we use it on others.  Sure, you should shovel your walk, lose weight, quit drinking and cursing and stealing pens from work, but you should witness all along the way.  You don't need to clean up your life to share, you share as God continues to work in you.  Encourage others, but don't manipulate them.  Guilt is gone, it shouldn't be something that Christians use and that we say.

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