Witnessing is one of those Christian duties that can seem a little intimidating. We are unused, perhaps, to speaking up and to expressing ourselves in a hostile setting. One of the commonest messages I get from fellow believers is, ‘I couldn’t do that; I never know what to say’.
Well, here is encouragement in Luke 21: 14-15. Jesus himself says, ‘Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict’. In other words, don’t plan out or rehearse your responses. Indeed, don’t worry over them, but trust that the Lord will give you the words.
I suppose we tend to look on witnessing as the fruit of faith, but it is actually more helpful to understand it as the exercise of faith. This is one more area in which we are asked to forget any strength or personal quality we may possess, and rely utterly upon God for guidance. Obviously I’m talking about verbal witness and, more specifically, the kind we bring to hostile audiences.
We balk at the thought of entering such a lions’ den. Yet, this is precisely what Christ refers to as an ‘opportunity’. If we are hauled – literally or figuratively – before an unbelieving court, then we have unprecedented access to the lost.
At this point, we have to do two things: give the reins into God’s hands; and remember what we were before becoming his disciples. The act of remembering strengthens our trust in him and enables us to let go.
God doesn’t ask for eloquence, or cleverness. He supplies any deficiencies we may have. All he desires is that we would lean on him and open our mouths in faith.
They will try to drown you out. Yes, and they will try to shut your mouth. Perhaps you will be taken to law and made a social pariah for believing what is an offence to many. You may very well suffer personal humiliation and loss of respect or status.
Even, Jesus says, ‘some of you they will put to death’.
No wonder we fear to open our mouths. Today, society seems poised and ready, waiting to catch us out.
Just, in fact, as the Pharisees and the scribes dealt with our Saviour. He knows, you see, he knows what we fear in this because he has been there before us.
That’s why we don’t have to plan our responses, and why there is truly nothing to fear if we step out in faith.
Open your mouth and he will fill it.