I grew up in an era when “testimony” meant a sordid story of evil that turned good. People came and spoke, and gave their testimony. They told us for 20 minutes of their wicked exploits and close with an “I came to Jesus” moment and invitation.
It was encouraging on one level, God cared for the worst of sinners. But, honestly, I felt like I had no testimony of my own. I was a church kid, and never did anything bad. I was, in fact, a good church kid, who didn’t even do the bad stuff that other church kids did.
I want to think for a minute about our girl from the well of Sychar.
And from that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” (John 4:39 NASB)
As I said last Friday, there is great power in your testimony. When combined with the Word of God and attentiveness to the Spirit, it makes for unstoppable evangelism.
The woman of Samaria had met Jesus hours, perhaps minutes, before. They had talked, and Jesus had, by the Spirit, seen into her life.
This was her entire experience in Spiritual life.
She went into the city telling everyone about her amazing encounter. Her story, her testimony, began that day.
However, there is a misuse of testimony out there that I want to poke at a bit today. Please hear me – before you read on, please apply grace.
She did not go off and tell of all the evil she had been into, giving lurid details, names, dates, and ‘old life’ photos of all her men summing up with a few short ‘Come to Jesus’ words. The gist of her message was – Come see a man who told me all things – this must be the Messiah.
It is really good to know that Jesus can save to the uttermost those who are terribly lost, and I presume the people of her town did know her past to some extent. But I feel like our testimony begins where God shows up. There is nothing wrong with giving the broad stokes of who you were before.
The power of the woman’s testimony was not in the wretched life she lived before her encounter with Jesus, but in the river of living water that she sensed gushing out of the deepest part of her. That which was dry and parched, was now a source of life for everything in its path.
Turns out I did have a testimony. I was the rich young ruler (all but the rich part.) I had kept the commandments from my youth, but needed to step off the throne of my life and let Jesus be Lord over me.
Our past is an important witnessing tool, and can bring glory to God as a beginning to our stories. But we are called to testify to what we have seen, heard and how Jesus has touched our lives.
Let’s not sensationalize our past. There is a verse in Ezekiel that always gives me pause.
Yet she multiplied her harlotries, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the harlot in the land of Egypt. (Ezekiel 23:19 NASB)
Sometimes when we glorify our evil past, in our lives BC, we actually multiply our transgression!
Let’s glorify God by shining light on our transformation, not on the monster we were before. It’s OK to display how desperately far from God you were, it’s important, so that God receives glory for the full transformation. It’s just a mistake to make that the whole story.
Our girl’s story started the day she met Jesus, and so did mine. That other guy – he is not me, that is the story of a dead man. Now there is life flowing in and through me, and out of me to the world – Hallelujah! Only Jesus could have pulled that off.
Tell someone what the Lord has done in your life today.