Thursday, May 09, 2013

Prodigal Christianity (4) Witness

When it comes to Witness, Fish and Coleslaw react to two extremes. The first extreme is preaching the gospel boldly regardless of whether anyone is listening. The opposite extreme is endless conversation and listening that goes nowhere and changes nothing.

The World comes to know the truth of God’s kingdom not by us defending the truth, but by our witness to it; not by having well-policed conversations about the kingdom, but living lives that testify to the truth.

This approach to encountering others often puts the question of truth before the act of witness. Strangely, we demand to know what people believe about truth before we offer any witness to the truth. We think that if people do not believe in “absolute” or “propositional” truth, then it will be impossible for them to believe the truth of the gospel. But such a “stand for the truth” can reduce people to disembodied minds and reduce the gospel to the transfer of information.

Ongoing conversations on issues facing the church are fine for open forums, but for people living these issues in life together, conversations must touch the ground in concrete actions and decisions, if the kingdom of God is to break in. We must discern what God is doing in the here and now and respond.

An overemphasis on conversation now looks like a bunch of people standing around talking, and talking, and talking, and nothing ever comes of it.
They have some great things to say about witness that is radically different.
Witness communicates that we are participants in something big happening in the world. This something must be bigger and greater than us, or else why would such an event require a witness.

The Spirit’s presence ensures that witness is not something we have to do, defend, or somehow make happen.

Witnesses are not expected, like lawyers, to persuade by the rhetorical power of their speeches, but simply to testify to the truth for which they are qualified to give evidence.

We realised that our task, when it came to the poor among, was quite simply to do nothing. Absolutely nothing. We simply had to be present, available, in relation to the poor, to listen to God’s Spirit, and then respond when God spoke in and through these relationships. We were to let the kingdom of God flourish in and among us and thereby be witnesses.
They end the chapter with a clear challenge:
Let us walk recklessly into the middle of God’s making right what is broken in the world (gospel), and move boldly into the centre of the kind of people God has called us to be (community).

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