The What and Who of Meandering About

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

You Shall Be My Witnesses

What does it mean to be a witness?
That seemingly innocent question led to an in depth conversation Sunday, July 10. 

The following is a brief summary of the conversation.  Please feel free to jump in and add your comments or if you were a part of the conversation, please add or correct what you find here.


What does it mean to be a witness?
  • It means that you have seen something take place.  You have been a passive participant in an event.  A couple of examples were offered.  The first was witnessing an automobile accident.  You were not involved in the accident in the same manner that the drivers of the other cars were involved, but you were forever attached to the event.
    A second example was Moses as he witnessed the burning bush.  At first he only saw what was happening to the bush. "(Moses) looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed" (Exodus 3:2).  He was a witness to what was happening, but was not involved.  He indeed made the decision to get involved, but at first was simply seeing it.
  • It means that you tell others about that which you have seen or in which you have participated.  You take action upon that with which you have interacted.  Again, a couple of examples were offered.  The first was related to the automobile accident mentioned above.  The police officer on the scene asks you to tell what you saw as a witness to the event.  You have now moved from passive observer to active participant.
    The second example comes again from the life of Moses and his burning bush experience.  "Then Moses said, 'I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up'" (Exodus 3:3). Upon moving toward the bush, Moses went from being a passive observer to an active participant.  His live was forever changed.
What the group quickly realized is that regardless of whether you are only a passive observer or an active participant, you are a witness and your life is forever changed.  There is nothing you can do about it.  Because of that which you have experienced you will live, act and potentially speak differently.  You are a witness. 

In Romans, Paul writes these words as he is beginning to piece together his systematic theology of the Christian faith, "Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made" (Romans 1:20).  All people are witnesses to that which God is doing in the world.  Whether or not we acknowledge the divine activity, we are all witnesses.  We are all transformed by that interaction in some way or another.  Our lives speak of that which we have witnessed.  Our art, our writing, our conversations all testify to that which we have seen and heard.  We cannot help it!

Finally, the group also came to the understanding that it is through our giftedness that we witness to that which we have seen and experienced; some are gifted orators and conversationalists, some are gifted listeners and counselors, some are gifted teachers and educators.  This list could go on and on. 

The crux of the matter is that you have witnessed God and God's redeeming power.  We all have.  Through your giftedness, you are a witness to that which God has done and is doing in the world.  We all are.

We are all witnesses in many ways. 

Sunday, July 17 - Heaven and Hell

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