Sunday July 29, 2012 | Laurel Bunker
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy , holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for. ”
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? ”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
All of the church is a witness for Jesus Christ on this Earth. Yet, many people have inhibitions about being a witness for Jesus. In this sermon, Pastor Laurel Bunker talks about the roots of her understanding of witness and what being a witness looks like today.
Being a witness for God is something that every Christian gets a chance to do. Some preach the word of God, some do mission projects, and many others simply live a life that shows people God’s goodness. Whatever our witness looks like, we are each called to present a witness to the world around us.
A witness stands up and says that Jesus is alive, that we may not know everything, but we do know a holy God who loves us. A new life, blessings, and his new mercies every morning are just a few of the beautiful things that God gives us each and every day. A witness simply proclaims these things, and the reason that we witness is because there are witnesses that stand against God in this world.
In Laurel’s church growing up, the elders of the church were the witnesses in the church. These elders were African-Americans who grew up in the Jim Crow south and the discrimination and prejudice against their people. These elders spoke about the beautiful nature of a God who stood with them through pain and suffering. They spoke about the God who fought against injustice with love and non-violence. These testimonies were stories of people’s lives that God acted through, and they also pointed towards the future story that God promises us.
We are like the elders of Laurel’s church, only we speak about different evils. We speak out against child prostitution and greed. We speak out and help those who are hungry and help those who have too much. We have been chosen by God to be his hands and feet as witnesses in this world. We are the witnesses that speak against the evils of this world. And every person has a unique story that speaks against these evils, and every person’s story can be a witness to the goodness of God and the power of the Kingdom.
Being a biblical witness is one who can assert what they have seen and heard. Witnesses, in the Old Testament, were people that testified to what other people had done in the community. Witnesses were also, in the New Testament, one who repeats or testifies to admonish. This type of witness is the witness that helps others to continue to follow God and believe. Another biblical definition is setting forth a message received from God. None of these definitions requires a pedigree, a degree, or a paid position at a church. Instead, it is simply relying on God to act through you.
When we rely on God, we naturally become a witness. Living a life of love and other oriented sacrifice will naturally make people see your life as a witness. However, there must be a verbal witness; a language that communicates. When someone asks why you do what you do, you should have an answer. It can be as simple as writing on a note-card with your story before God on one side and what God has done since you turned to him. Sometimes, our stories help other people to see where God is alive and working in their own lives.
We need three things to be a good witness. The first is assurance that Jesus is alive. We believe and proclaim that Jesus is alive and working in our lives. The second is that we need instruction from Jesus. We need to spend time and energy communicating and learning from Jesus’ feet. Finally, we need to be empowered from above. Only by the Holy Spirit is the goal of witnessing achieved. Only when we are empowered by the Holy Spirit does our witness and testimony carry into other’s lives.