Tag Archives: witnessing

The Role of Witnessing: Telling People What We’ve Seen

But they did understand that the people who killed Jesus might kill them too. The authorities had grilled Jesus about his followers before they executed him. That was ominous.

Jesus had been executed as a revolutionary, and the disciples knew how their Roman overlords treated revolutionaries. During the slave revolt, Rome brutally executed thousands of – not combatants but – POWs. The same general who conquered Jerusalem had once lined the Appian way from Rome to Capua with crucified POWS. Every 2/10ths of a mile for about a hundred miles, travelers on that road saw a different dead slave nailed to a cross – 6,000 in all.

The Empire thought of crucifixion as an attention-grabbing billboard that would leave everyone talking about what happens to people who challenge Rome. The apostles had seen smaller copies of that same billboard many times. Continue reading

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Finally, Some Good News: The Role of Witnesses in the Gospel

When people see something that interests or impresses them – whether a football game, a scenic vista, or people arguing at the supermarket – they talk about it. After Karen and I were married, we lived in a large apartment complex on our city’s southwest side. One morning around 2 or 3 o’clock, we heard a woman screaming for help out on the street. I jumped up, threw on some clothes, and went running out, telling Karen to call the police. (This was before we had 911.)

As I exited the building, I saw a car stopped in the middle of the street, with a woman on the far side of it – the woman who had screamed, I assumed. She was being pushed into the car by a man. As I ran, the car peeled off, and I never saw them again.

I was hardly a star witness. I couldn’t identify the woman. Was she tall? Short? I didn’t know. What was the man’s race? I wasn’t sure. What did the car look like? It was too dark to distinguish the color. I didn’t see the license plate. If I had been summoned to court, some defense attorney would have tied me in knots. They would have asked if I hadn’t dreamed the entire episode.

If I did, Karen dreamed it with me. I certainly didn’t see everything – the woman’s features or the car’s license plate – but I did see some things: a car in the middle of the street, a woman being pushed into it, the car peeling away as I approached. Karen and I both heard the scream for help.
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Give your message “street cred”

When my children were still young and I was pastoring in another city, my wife and I took the kids downtown one Sunday afternoon and walked around the square and up and down the street. Downtown was unusually empty that … Continue reading

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