The Church A Witnessing Community
Conversion of St Paul. St Mary's Comberton/ St Peter's Coton 25/1/2009
Galatians 1:11-end; Matt 19:27-end
Summary: Witnessing means pointing to transformation
Aim: That we would be witnesses to God's transforming work [in us.]
A worldwide community -->
Because it has been a witnessing community
'witnessing' religious jargon. offputting
“Jehovah's Witnesses”, black suits, twos, knocking on doors, handing out tracts.
Put religious jargon to one side
WITNESSES IN EVERYDAY SPEECH
1. Witness: (traffic accident). Person waiting at a bus stop, sees a dog run out into the road just as a car pulls out to overtake a lorry. Saw something happen – maybe no one else saw. Key qualification: eyes
2. Witness: (in court) gives a testimony about what they saw. Mouth. Words need not be articulate or clever to convince a jury. Say plain and simple what they saw. Key witness confident scientist giving the results of forensic test. Child shaking at the knees – thief running down alley.
3. Witness: (signing legal document). Draw up will. Asked my sister and her fiance. solemn moment. Testifies to what someone else has done. Point away from themselves
eyes – mouth – hand
WITNESSES IN THE EARLY CHURCH
SAW transformation happen. Paul (v23) “The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy.” Resurrection. New community where people shared their possessions with one another.
SPOKE about what they had seen. articulate educated men like Paul. Uneducated galilean fishermen Simon Peter. Seen something – couldn't help but talk about it.
POINTED to God.
v11-12 “For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me was not of human origin [sell philosopy] for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”
placement in NZ accent “sound so learned”. Point about preaching/ speaking about our faith
NOT “wow - isn't he clever”, “Wow – isn't God amazing.”
Full circle – pointed not just with words, but with how they lived their lives. Slaves and masters sitting round sharing bread and wine together – all servants of the One Master.
US TODAY - WITNESSES
Eyes – mouth – hands working in tandem. --> Place to start eyes – mouths and hands
Recognise God's transforming work taking place – natural to point towards in actions and talk about it with words.
What are we looking for?
Something more than what we expect on a human level.
- Seeming coincidence – through which God reunites 2 members of a family.
- Mother who tragically loses a child but through all the pain and grief learns more about God as a Father.
- Someone who asks for friends to pray for a bad back, and the complaint disappears
- Sewing machines story p103, Mission shaped and rural
witnessing is always about pointing to transFormation.
NOT just about advertising church services better.
Always pointing away from ourselves to God who transforms.
Eyes: Looking expectantly for God at work
Mouths: Talking about what we see – not needing to be articulate. Best evangelists
Hands: Pointing people not to ourselves, not to the Church, but to God who calls us all to a life of transformation.