Blog - Embodying Truth

Witnessing: Does One Size Fit All?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Many pressures may explain pushy witnessing. But one of the most compelling is the idea that speaking the gospel is the only spiritually significant reason for working in a “secular” job. If you're convinced that explaining God's way of salvation is your single reason for going to work, that pressure is likely to override considerations of tact and timeliness.

What lies behind this notion? I believe we have missed seeing the New Testament distinction between mobile and stationary witnessing. God calls some believers to traveling ministries. He calls others to serve him by staying put.

Mobile ministries enjoy the New Testament spotlight. Once he began his public ministry, Jesus and his disciples stayed on the move. He sent his apprentices out in pairs “to every town and place where he was about to go” (Luke 10:1). And to Paul the Lord said, “Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles” (Acts 22:21). When believers in mobile ministries speak the good news and it is rejected, they can shake the dust off their feet and move on to the next venue.

But those in stationary ministries can't “cut and run.” When Peter and Paul wrote to Christian slaves, they were addressing those in stay-put ministries. What are believing slaves to do when their masters treat them harshly? Shake the dust off their feet and find kinder masters? No. Instead, they are to submit to them. To respect them. To “bear up under [literally, to stay under, to endure] unjust suffering” (I Peter 2:18, 19). And Paul told Titus to teach slaves to act in ways that will “make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (Titus 2:10).

Witnessing is both show and tell. For those in mobile ministries, the emphasis will fall more heavily on the telling. For those in stationary ministries, the opportunities will more often take the shape of showing.

In his book, Abide in Christ, Andrew Murray puts it well: “With some, the chief testimony was to be that of a holy life revealing heaven and Christ as its source. The power came to set up the Kingdom within them, to give them victory over sin and self, to fit them by living experience to testify to the power of Jesus on the throne to make men live in the world as saints. Others were to give themselves up entirely to speaking in the name of Jesus. But all needed and all received the same gift of power in order to prove that Jesus now had received the Kingdom of the Father. . . .”

Why should you, a Christian, get up in the morning and go to work? God has not just one but many reasons for sending you there. If no opportunity for verbal witnessing opens up, your day is not a waste of time. Worship God as you serve him in one or more of the other reasons he has placed you in our workplace.

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