I am confident that I am not the only person who feels the way I feel. I have grown to learn that if I am dealing with something theological, and something tells me that I am the only one who is ‘rasslin with what I am ‘rasslin with then there are probably many who are ‘rasslin with the same thing I am. If you are like me and are happily, hysterically, sprinting down the road that distinguishes the Law and the Gospel, there seem to be a lot of Wizard Of Oz apple throwing trees along the way.
If you are like me and grew up marching to the cadence of the moral majority and the Christian Coalition Conservative Right Tribe, running down this road will often also feel like playing that fair or Showbiz Pizza game “Whac A Mole.” (YES, Showbiz Pizza….before it became Chuck E. Cheese and got lame…Chuck aint got nothing on Fatz Geronimo)
Whac A Mole: That game where you have a mallet in one hand in front of a table that has moles popping up one after the other, and the only way to make them go back in their hole is to hit them over the head with a mallet….
Why does it feel like Whac A Mole you ask? Because after realizing that there needs to be a proper distinction between God’s Law and God’s Gospel there seem to be so many things you can remember being taught, said, implied, encouraged to accept as truth…when you used to wear WWJD bracelets and think that voting for a Democrat was a sin…pop up like a mole who needs to be whacked, a mole who is objecting to keeping God’s Law and God’s Gospel from mutating together like a theological Ninja Turtle. It is how I feel when objections pop up on me and leave me feeling like I need to whack it back down in it’s hole. This game is not to be confused with games that have clowns in them which have me on a different wavelength…
Oh and for the record it is still a sin to vote Democrat
So vote Libertarian haha! (Joke, it is a joke…clam down right now!)
Please tell me I am not alone in feeling this way. You have found rest and joy in realizing that the Gospel is for Christians too. That it is by God’s grace that we are saved and not by our works. Realizing that God’s Law can only kill us and that our only hope is Christ, courtesy of God’s Gospel, changing how we view the Law and how we view ourselves as Christians…especially for those of us who grew up where the emphasis was put on what we do now as a Christian instead of what Christ has already done for us.
So in this episode of Whac A Mole the objection that has popped up for me to whac is something that I can remember hearing a lot when it comes to how to behave, especially how to behave in public where lost sinners might come in contact with you (like it is not a problem that God can see you act and think in private, haha silly Gate Keepers). How many of you have heard something like this before:
“Don’t do that, what about your witness? You don’t want to hurt your witness and lead people astray from Christ do you?”
This has been something that used to haunt me as a kid. What if my actions, words, deeds, behavior literally caused someone to think “that is how a Christian acts? I will pass then….no gospel for me, thanks but no thanks pal.”
I remember used to thinking at night, “I think I just sent someone to hell….I hurt my witness.” As if I had that kind of power that trumped the power of the inner witness of the Holy Spirit…what the what?!?
The thought of all of this is just sad, if not funny for several reasons.
- If my “witness” for Jesus was dependent on my actions, deeds, words, life, my ability to fulfill and grow in keeping the Law and living like Christ would live, doing what he would do, then my witness for him was hurt before I even began.
- What in the Wild, Wild, World of Sports is going on around here when we actually think that our witness for Christ is to tell others how better we are winning at life because of Christ rather than how better Christ lived life for us and now offers His life to us because He loves us?
- When did we think it was smart to use our life as an example of the success of the gospel when it is the life, death and life again of Jesus that is the success of the gospel?
- When did we start to think that a Christian witness is about telling others about our life rather than telling others about the life of Jesus?
- What is a witness? What are we witnesses of? Not us. But we have misguidedly made our witness about us which is void of denying self, taking up our cross and following Jesus. It instead is affirming self, polishing/anointing our crown and following the idol of “me.” It is back door idolatry of “me”….so in a weird way….the worst thing you can possibly do to hurt your “witness” is to make your witness for Christ about you and your performance (which is garbage) rather than Christ and His performance.
Yeah there is another mole coming after this one but it sure feels good when that mallet finds the top of that mole’s head square and flush. Even the verses that refer to good works and “shining for others” have me thinking differently. The only light I have to shine is Jesus’…not “my” light…when people see my “good works” or “my light shine” surely it should have them looking for something better and that is Christ. Or…they will see “my light” and realize that it is not me and has to be someone else. When I do good works they will also be a testimony to Christ because it will be Christ in me that is providing the desire to do good works. But I do not believe that we should make our witness about our performance…that is exhausting, demoralizing, devastating, depressing and misleading into what and who we are meant to use to measure how we are doing in our faith. Everyone other than Jesus who is performing well at God’s Law please step forward not so fast everyone who has ever lived ever. Look at Jesus. He is in you and you are in Him. Look at Jesus and tell me how He is doing. His righteousness has been given to, imputed to you. When measuring your faith you are able to measure Christ who is on the scale for you. Feel better? Your witness is about Jesus not about you. Feel Better?
To be a witness for Christ is to be called to tell others what we have seen and heard, specifically what we have seen and heard about Jesus in Scripture and the rest that we have found in Him. Tell people how Jesus loves, saves and adores you even while you are a sinner. Sinners will get that. Sinners will be prone to desire that and hope for it to be true. I am willing to bet that to many sinners that will sound like good news. Your witness for Christ is hurt when you are living a lie, trying to put out the fake funk front that you are nailing this moral righteous living of the Law down pat. You are not fooling anyone…well…fooling yourself. But sinners know that you are a sinner too. What hurts your witness is when you suggest to sinners that you are righteous…it looks pretty ridiculous too. I think Jesus talked about it once…what it looks like for a Gate Keeping Pharisee to think highly of themselves and what it looks like for a sinner to ask for mercy…Luke 18:9-14
But….to those who come out of this misunderstanding, to embrace the truth of the distinction between Law and Gospel will find yourself feeling like this witness and wanting to act like this witness below when you run into being treated the way that you often are when trying to take the truth back to the “Don’t hurt your witness” squad of Gate Keepers:
It is sad thing for those who have built their hope on themselves and how well they are performing in their cheap version of God’s Law…for them to hear that all that work has gotten them no where in regards to their right standing and favor with God will have them very, very, angry….not all the time…some might find incredible joy. There is an awesome kind of joy in seeing a Gate Keeper being set free by a grace artillery barrage. If you have seen that old movie “The Longest Day,” it is like that happy French Guy in his home when he sees the Allied Forces break from the fog to be visible just off the beach in Normandy. I remember thinking as a kid, “how is that guy so happy that he is crying? Why is he cheering? Doesn’t he know that those Navy artillery rounds are blowing up his house?” It wasn’t until I got older that I realized why he was so overwhelmed with joy. He was in his country that had been occupied by a foreign, enemy power. Those bombs were music to his ears because they were the bombs that were liberating him from being a prisoner in his own home and country. This is the same thing that happens to the lost heart or even the Christian Gate Keeper’s heart that realizes that it is being set free by an Allied invasion of God’s grace, mercy, hope and love. For the heart to know that it is D-Day for their struggle to perform and that liberty has been given in the victory of Jesus…well…gospel bombs sound like freedom.
(To see the scene that I am referring to please follow this link and begin watching at the 3:00 mark).
Being a witness means that you are telling people about Jesus and how His righteousness has been given to you and how He is your substitute.
Don’t tell people to look at you in order to gauge how well Christianity is changing you…that is hurting your witness. Tell people to look at Christ…that is what a witness does, to testify to the truth of what has happened. The truth is that Jesus has given us His righteousness. The Truth is that Jesus is our substitute on Judgment Day. Jesus loves, died for and saves sinners. He has died for me and lived for me. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. My hope is not in me but in Christ. Hope in Christ is what saves because Jesus is the only hope for sinners. That is our testimony…that is who we are bearing witness of…
Jesus…He can’t hurt His witness….making your witness for Christ about you will.