Being a Witness Through Our Words and Actions
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders … Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:5-6
By Brandon, Religious Freedom and Education Project Coordinator
You have probably heard that the South is the “Bible Belt of America” – well I grew up in the “Bible Belt of the West,” a rural mountain town. There were more churches in a town with two stoplights than there were businesses. One would think that with the number of churches in town, the public school would be filled with dedicated Christ-followers. Yet, that wasn’t the case for my school. It was in that environment that I learned to be a witness. I often think of C.S. Lewis’ quote from the sermon, Weight of Glory, when interacting with unbelievers, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal … It is immortals whom we joke with, work, marry, snub, exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” My witness to my peers, their families, teachers, and school officials had the opportunity to either bring people to the saving grace of Christ or push them further towards the steps of darkness.
As followers of Christ it is easy to think that as long as we invite a friend or two to church, hand out a couple Bible verses, and carry our Bible in our backpacks then we are being an effective witness to Christ. Going through high school, I realized that it was so much more than those simple tasks. James wrote to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22) and Paul stated “Walk in wisdom towards outsiders … Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt …” (Colossians 4:5-6). Those words echo in my mind as I consider what being a witness to for Christ looks like, especially in a culture where it’s not always considered “hip” or “cool.”
This principle was made clear to me when my group of friends and I befriended a fellow student whose parents were not Bible-believing Christians. Over the course of a year, we spent the time building a relationship with her and her family. The door opened for her to start coming to our youth group and learn more about the
Gospel of Christ. I learned through that situation that the day-to-day living of our lives in a way that is a consistent, visible testament to the Gospel— can be powerful. My friends and I had the opportunity to share Christ because we spent the time to build a relationship, to earn our friend’s trust, and allow her to see how we lived out our lives with love for one another.
Following Christ might not have been the most popular idea in my high school, but I felt I was able to gain influence and the respect of my classmates because I was open and had honest conversations. I did not view my classmates as another “number” to be converted to Christ, but as individuals who had eternal worth in God’s eyes. Even as I spent time around my unbelieving friends and classmates, it was learning the ability to have gracious discussions and knowing when to speak, or when not to, that gave me the ability to live out my faith in way that was tangible to my classmates.
Being a living testimony requires a balanced view of earth and heaven—something I haven’t always had. Just as C.S. Lewis instructed us that we interact daily with “immortals” so too did he write in Mere Christianity, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in:’ aim at earth and you will get neither.” I have tried aiming at earth, hoping that heaven would somehow come around. In my first years of college, I wasn’t truly following the Lord –I wanted to be in charge of my life. As I “aimed at earth,” I turned others away from the Gospel, instead of towards it since my speech did not match my actions. As followers of Christ, we have to recognize that we are surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses,” who will either see the reflection of Christ—or the reflection of death– in our actions. We must always be seeking to spread the truth and the everlasting life that Christ shed His blood for on the cross.