What do you think of when you hear the word testimony? Perhaps you think of a court case where a person is called on to testify about their observations of a crime.
In modern evangelical circles, a person might tell the story of how they ‘made a decision for Christ’ publicly. That person would talk about the darkest aspects of their past in order to highlight the change they went through as a result of that decision. People who had the worst stories are often considered pseudo-celebrities for coming to Christ after all they’d been through.
The point of this exercise is to encourage the Christian audience that God is still at work. Additionally, the ‘unchurched’ might feel that the person who is giving the testimony is a kindred spirit, and feel motivated to make a decision for Jesus just like s/he did.
For those of us who were raised in the church, we might feel that we haven’t had such a dramatic conversion. We went to church on Sundays, attended Bible study and went through confirmation. Our testimony seems rather weak compared, to say, a drug-addicted mother of fourteen who found the Lord and reformed her life. Let’s face it, we’ll never end up on the lecture circuit with a resume of lifetime church-going.
But is our testimony the one that matters?
The apostle John’s account begins with testimony after testimony about Jesus. He begins this account with what the Holy Spirit inspired him to write:
14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15(John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.d 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1, ESV)
John disappears into the background. In fact, except for the phrase “The disciple whom Jesus loved”, John is hardly seen in his testimony about Jesus.
As the first chapter progresses, John writes of John the Baptist’s testimony:
29The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (ESV)
What an incredible declaration! And that is not the end of it. Jesus talks of himself in the “I am” statements made throughout John’s account. These statements would have clearly reminded the Jews of Jesus’ day of Moses encounter with God in Exodus 3:14 at the burning bush:
13Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” 14God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”
Jesus is declaring that He is the self-existent God!
For you and I, this is good news. We don’t have to worry about the relative strength or weakness about our personal testimony, instead, we can repeat the testimony of John the Apostle, John the Baptist and the all of the disciples who declared Jesus to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
This leads us to God’s testimony about us in 1 Peter 2:
9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
No matter what your background is, Jesus has made you his own. Through Him, we have become one people, united through His death and resurrection. ‘You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession’ through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. That is God’s testimony about you.
In Jesus’ name,