An engagement ring, the Holy Spirit, and witnessing
It felt like any other workday as everyone came in, but before I could even start with the normal Monday morning pleasantries – How was your weekend? What did you do? – a coworker actually jumped into my path and started waving her left hand in my face. The diamond on her ring was close enough to poke me in the nose, and as I pulled back, I could see the large smile on her face. She was practically giddy that the man she had spent so much time getting to know had asked her to marry him. All day long, she bounced from person to person, telling anyone she knew about their relationship and future together.
My co-worker had gotten to know this man and was already in love with him. Most people at work knew she was dating, but didn’t really know how serious they were or if they had any future plans together. However, when the proposal moment came and he placed the ring on her finger, everything snapped into focus. Because of the ring and her bubbly excitement, everyone at work soon found out that she had experienced a life-changing moment and that she was in a life-changing relationship.
The memory of that Monday has stuck with me for many years. It was so easy for her to tell others about her relationship, how special it was for her, and how her talking about it felt like a celebration of their relationship. I’ve often compared this to how most Christians share their faith with others, and obviously there are significant differences. I think every Christian would love to have the confidence, boldness, and excitement that my coworker had, and we often scold ourselves for not having the courage to share. So, what do we do? Typically, we go one of two ways: either we grit our teeth and fumble around in the awkwardness of forcing “Jesus” into a conversation, or we resign ourselves to shame for being too scared to bring it up.
However, we’re not alone in this. The Biblical parallel that comes to mind is what Jesus told His 11 disciples just before He ascended into heaven:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you,
and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem,
in all Judea and Samaria,
and to the end of the earth.
When reading Scripture, one way to sharpen our Observation skills is to look for the particular order things are presented. Us modern-day believers tend to key in on the phrase “you will be My witnesses…to the end of the earth”, and while that is where we are on this list, we need to be aware that Jesus said there was a part that comes before becoming His witnesses.
Jesus told His disciples that first the Holy Spirit has to come into their lives and that He would be the power for them to be His witnesses – and if you continue to read in Acts, you find out that is the case. The disciples knew Jesus well because they had just spent the last 3 years with Him, watching everything He did and being personally taught by Him. Yes, they did do some preaching and teaching under Jesus’ leadership, but that all stopped when Jesus was taken from them. Scripture does not show them telling others about Jesus until after the Holy Spirit came. The disciples had all the information and relationship basis to tell others, but they were lacking the boldness and power to talk about Him. The arrival of the Holy Spirit in their lives gave them the confidence they needed to share what they already knew.
For us, we are given the Holy Spirit the moment we believe in Jesus for eternal life (Ephesians 1:13). The point is the same, however. The Holy Spirit is the one who enables us to witness…it’s not something that can be drummed up or done by our own strength. And yet, we shame ourselves for not being able to do the Holy Spirit’s job! The disciples could not effectively witness without Him, and neither can we.
Our efforts should not be in finding and perfecting a “witnessing moment” because that’s not our jurisdiction, not our focus. Our witness is an outpouring of our relationship with Jesus. We can only share what we know. As such, our efforts are better used in purposely spending time with Jesus – getting to know Him by talking with Him in prayer and watching what He did in the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit will take care of the rest.