“He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son” (Prov 10:5).
How is a church to bring in the harvest? How are we to witness for Christ? Let us look at the early church, described in the book of Acts. Throughout this Bible book we read how the first believers witnessed to the world around them through loving fellowship, compassionate service, and faithful proclamation of the Gospel.
One of the first things we learn about the early church is that its members “devoted themselves to (…) fellowship” and that all the believers “were together” (Acts 2:42,44). Church is the best place to provide the best kind of fellowship. It is where we share the sincere expression of a common experience of knowing God, where we can grow in Christ, and can train ourselves to daily walk in his ways. Christian fellowship brings us closer together, but even more so, closer to Christ.
The first person the apostle Paul saw after his conversion on the Damascus road was Ananias. The first word he heard was “brother”. He had come home to the family of God. His earlier persecution of Christ’s disciples was completely forgiven. What comfort and inner healing this one small word must have conveyed to Paul. That is how Christian fellowship works.
Christian fellowship is also a powerful testimony to unbelievers. Jesus commanded us to love each other as He has loved us, for “by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).
Service is a part of Christian witness. The early Christians helped others with their material needs. Material needs are real needs. The doctrine of creation and incarnation drive home the truth that God is very much “down to earth”. He created the world and all that is in it. Christ Himself came in the flesh. I once heard the testimony of a Mexican woman. She testified in the church that she is a believer today, because some Christians in the past had found her and helped her in her poverty. It was much later that she read the Gospel. She could then easily accept the truth about God’s love, because she had already seen this love at work in her Christian friends. In the same way each of us can testify of God’s love by our attitude toward our fellow man. Even if it is only a friendly word, a helping hand, a warm meal for a poor man. The opportunity presents itself every day again. Take it, because your good deeds can lead people to praise God. In the words of Jesus, “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Mat 5:16).
In Acts, we see that the proclamation of the Gospel was central to all that the early Christians did. Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost is a great example. As personal witnesses to Christ and as a witnessing church we must tell others about Jesus. It is not enough simply to live a good life or to let it be known that a church is located at this or that spot. The word of God about Jesus Christ must be presented.
When you meet a man in the road, talk with someone at your office, factory, school, tell him about Jesus. Explain in your own words what happened in your life. The essence of the Christian message is simple, “God made you, God loves you, God gave his Son for you. Repent of your sins, believe in Him, and at the time of your death you will go to be with your Father God”. Make sure that your heart is full of God’s presence. Then witnessing comes natural. For “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Mat 12:34).
Let us not be like a disgraceful son in the eyes of our Lord. The witnessing church comes down to witnessing Christians!
Lord, make me a true witness for You. Teach me to walk close to You every day, so that my heart will overflow with your presence, and your light will shine through me. To my brothers and sisters, but also to the world in need. Amen.