Introducing others to Jesus
Growing up, I remember being repeatedly told about the importance of “witnessing” to others. Our church would sometimes go knocking on peoples’ doors to share the gospel, but for the most part, the congregation was encouraged to “share Jesus” with anyone and everyone we encountered during the week.
I always felt weird about doing it. I couldn’t drum up the courage to randomly bring Jesus up in a conversation, and I was convinced that I would be super-awkward if I was able to actually say anything. I also knew I didn’t have the all answers to the hard questions I would face. So, for the most part, I didn’t say much. People knew that my family went to church, but overall I resigned myself to being a “bad witness”, figuring that the pastor and any older, braver, and wiser Christians would have to make up for my inability to show anyone who Jesus is.
And now, reading through the Scriptures as an adult, I find out that that introducing others to Jesus is much simpler than memorizing all the good answers to every possible theological question. Instead, our “witness” has a lot more to do with who we are than what we know.
The author of Hebrews gave his readers this direction regarding their “witness”:
Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness – without it no one will see the Lord.
Your life is the first gospel that most people will read. What kind of story are you telling?
If we want others to look at us and see the Lord, then we should be acting like the Lord acts. And that kind of behavior doesn’t just happen on its own…which is why the author says these God-like traits must be pursued.
However, when traits are given in lists, it can be easy to gloss over the impact of each quality. Breaking up the sentence can help with our understanding:
Pursue peace with everyone – without it no one will see the Lord.
We have been forgiven of so, so much. God made peace with us, and we 100% did not deserve it. In fact, He took the initiative, and He pursued us in order to make that peace. But now that we’re in the family…if our actions don’t portray that same reconciliation attitude, then no one else will believe us when we say that God’s complete forgiveness is possible.
Pursue holiness – without it no one will see the Lord.
Living a life marked by holiness means that our actions are pure, free of stain. However, staying pure doesn’t mean that we must withdraw from “those people” and all the “bad sinners” around us. Instead, it means our aim is to live life the way we were created to – in relationship with God and without sin.
In order to show people who the Lord is, the author of Hebrews isn’t telling his readers to shout Bible verses from the street corners or to prepare for arguments with non-Christians in the community (or online). He also doesn’t say to petition the government to pass laws that force people to live according to Scripture.
Instead, a life that “witnesses” about the Lord is actually a byproduct of our desire to be like Him. We understand that when we think about how these two pursuits affect how others would view us. Someone who actively seeks peace with others while still living a pure life? That’s someone who stands out in this world. That’s someone who will have the opportunity to help non-Christians see the Lord.