Divine storytellers

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. -Acts 1:8 (NIV)

A lot is packed into this, one of the last statements made by Jesus before ascending into heaven. A full-on power-up from the Holy Spirit, beyond what the disciples had experienced while Jesus was in their midst, would result in the spread of a story, starting in Jerusalem, then rippling outward throughout the world like a stone dropped into a lake. They would be witnesses.

I don't know about you, but I have often been very unsure, nervous, fearful when it comes to "witnessing" for Christ. The image I couldn't shake was the one of teen-aged me, going door-to-door as part of a "missionary campaign" to ask strangers whether they wanted to study the Bible. Of course, I halfway hoped they would say no, because I was pretty sure I wouldn't remember all the verses of scripture I would need to have at the ready in order to answer all their spiritual questions.

As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard. -Acts 4:20 (NIV)

In more recent years, it has dawned on me that those early disciples didn't even have all the scriptures written down yet, much less organized into a single volume and divided into chapters and verses for their reference and remembrance. How did they know what to say? How did the story go so far so fast?

They weren't "witnessing", as we have come to view it. They were "witnesses", as Christ had promised. They were telling the story about what they had seen, what they experienced, what they knew. Beyond that, it was the Spirit's work (because Jesus had promised that as well). They didn't know who was ready to respond, whether a particular person would respond, or how anyone might respond. And it didn't matter. They had a story and they were bound to tell it. It just so happened that their stories were woven into a bigger story of what God was doing in the lives of honest hearts wherever they went.

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. -John 3:8 (NIV)

To convoy starts with a willingness to swap stories. Not to argue, not to criticize, not to preach. Start with a conversation and be a witness. What has God done in your life? Tell the story.

Scott Thompson