Sunday, May 21, 2017
Sanctification and Witness
1Pet. 3:13 Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? 14 But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, 15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; 16 yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame.
The believers living in the period of the early church were facing new difficulties on a daily basis. The disciples were teaching these followers what it meant to live like Jesus, and this included ministering to the poor and the needy. They were to be engaged in doing good; doing the right things. Persecution was always a potential reality but they were not to allow that fear to inhibit their activities.
There was a direct connection to sanctification and the activity of believers in the world. God’s holy people; those who were deeply in love with Christ, would also love their neighbors and give of themselves for them. Engaging in this kind of a lifestyle would inevitably raise questions. The sanctified believer who follows Christ into a hurting world will be asked about their faith. The lifestyle of a sanctified believer becomes a witness to the presence of the kingdom of God in the world. Therefore when someone asks a question regarding our hope, we are to be prepared to respond. Never let the opportunity pass by to share about the sanctifying work of Christ in this world. Sanctification should always lead to witness, whether in word or deed.
If the focus of holiness is only on personal piety the believer will lose the opportunity to serve as a witness to the gospel. Personal piety alone, without showing expression in service to others is a real problem. This is not what Christ intended, and one must ask whether this is holiness at all. Can there be any holiness that is not expressed in both love for God and love for neighbor? If we try to do one without the other we will be lacking. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world and simply try to grow in the grace of Christ without engaging our world. Also, we cannot, as a Christian, just try to engage our world and do good deeds, without growing in the sanctifying power and grace of God. There are plenty of people engaged in doing good deeds, but they are unable to present the hope of the resurrected Lord.
A sanctified believer will be drawn to opportunities of witness. For those who argue that they have no chance to tell others about Jesus, I would ask how well you know Jesus, for Jesus saw opportunity everywhere that he went. Maybe it’s a person sitting at a table near you in a restaurant who is quietly listening in on your conversation. Did you notice? For some reason there may have been a spark of interest in your discussion. Our what about the Uber driver? You have time in a car to have a conversation with someone you may never normally meet. Maybe they’re someone from another faith. Today you have the opportunity to show them that a Christian is gentle and reverent — and gives them a good review! Speaking of reviews — there’s a professor (no one I know) who is in trouble for her Yelp reviews. She is supposed to be teaching cultural sensitivity at her university but when she goes to restaurants she often gives horrible reviews and uses offensive language. We cannot hide behind the internet and not be a witness. Everything that we do ought to be screaming about our love for Jesus and love for others. This is our witness and it is played out every single day in everything that we do!
There is a direct correlation between sanctification and witness. God’s holy people can’t help themselves — they will become witnesses in the world. If you find yourself thinking that you never have the opportunity to be a witness for Christ, I would suggest that you examine your personal relationship with Jesus. Greater intimacy with Jesus will always heighten your sensitivity to the lost. If there is no passion for the lost, there may be no real passion for Christ. Sanctification and witness — be prepared for the amazing journey of transformation, both personal and for the world.
Lord, I want to know you more and I want my heart filled with passion for you. Please open my eyes to those around me and give me the words to be your witness. Amen.