Tips for Witnessing Your Faith
Professor John F. Brug, Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, WI
QUESTION: I am recently employed. I’m a Christian and love the Lord dearly but have a hard time proclaiming him at work. As soon as someone mocks God, I do nothing to defend his holy name. Why is that? I can worship him with friends and family, but I can’t seem to share him with the people I work with.
ANSWER: The frustration and weakness that you see in yourself must be confessed by every Christian. Paul asked for fellow believers’ prayers for parallel reasons (Ephesians 6:19-20; Colossians 4:4). Despite our sincere love for the Savior which you express well, there remain the problems of indwelling sinfulness and human weakness.
You ask, “Why is that?” Our struggles with sinful nature, our bouts with spiritual immaturity, our less than fervent love for our neighbor, and our tendency to demonstrate spiritual indifference are proper starting points.
Aside from that, these factors are perhaps worthy of mention not to excuse our lack of witnessing, but better to understand obstacles that must be dealt with prayerfully and thoughtfully.
Sometimes we work with false images of witnessing and think that “proclaiming” him might include pressure tactics (arm-twisting, brow-beating, discourteous plying of emotions). No wonder some hesitate to testify if this is what they feel is necessary. There is the inevitable fear of rejection, even mockery, though it may come in subtle forms.
All forms of persecution and the potential loss of friendship are never pleasant to ponder. In our society there is the added epidemic of opposition of indifference to biblical truth. Taking a stand that indicates less than a full toleration of all religious ideas (as though none were better or worse than another) is to go against the prevailing standard of thought in the United States.
Another common problem is a personal sense of inadequacy that questions our ability to say the right thing the right way. Related to this is our sense of personal imperfection and lace of holiness that is wrongly seen as a disqualification to speak at all.
Is there help? Yes. First, find one or more fellow believers and friends with whom you can discuss the challenges regularly. Talk of specific obstacles and opportunities and encourage one another with concrete knowledge of your situations. Other appropriate reminders will include these:
1. Never underestimate the importance of lifestyle that often precedes and always accompanies loving testimony. You wrote, for example, that you were “recently employed.” Maybe it will take time for you to set the stage for the most effective witnessing as you demonstrate kindness, gentleness, helpfulness, patience, and cheerfulness at work.
2. Make sure the primary testimony is centered in Christ and the real forgiveness of real sin that he won for us all. You wrote that you wanted to “defend his holy name” when coworkers would mock God. Strive to stress why and how his name is holy (it is the saving name, the name revealed for our salvation — Acts 4:12, Romans 10:13) rather than simply rebuking or showing displeasure with wrong behavior. This also means to testify primarily about Christ, not the church or a particular congregation or church body. There may be time for that later, after the centrality of Christ and saving faith is established.
3. Never underestimate the power of you tool, God’s gospel. What appears to be an inadequate, foolish message remains God’s power for changing hearts (Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25).
4. Never forget the importance of gentle works, a kind attitude, a loving lifestyle, quite confidence and a respectful approach. These are often remembered by people who purposefully forget what you wanted to tell them. Be humble. “Be a beggar telling other beggars where to find the food.”
Do not think all worthy points are covered here. Do not prematurely or unnecessarily burden your conscience. Seek the counsel of a friend and search for fitting books on the subject (but beware of simplistic, mechanical, artificial approaches). I wish you well!
May 4, 2018
August 31, 2017