Many of us fail as witnesses simply because we don’t speak up. We don’t open our mouths because we fear social rejection – or, in the current political climate, we fear being associated with those who self-identify as “evangelical”.
We resist the sense of urgency because we think, “Well, we can wait until a better time.” We talk ourselves out of verbal witness because we imagine questions arising for which we don’t know the answers. Our real and often imagined sins silence us, leaving us with the vague hope that our lifestyle alone will attract people to Jesus Christ.
As the “salt of the earth”, “light of the world” people of God, our life-examples serve as powerful witnesses, but there’s more. An obscure story about four lepers (found in II Kings 7:3-11) offers some inspiration. In this story, the people of God are under siege. Four lepers decide that they’d rather die trying to find food than die in the besieged city.
When they venture out, they find the enemy camp deserted. To their amazement, the armies have fled and left the camp in tact. They eat and they drink, and then they carry out their own personal plundering.
But then – together – they come to realize that their selfishness is not good: “This is the day of good news,” they observe, “and we are keeping it to ourselves.” So they go and report the news. The news gets passed around with loud shouts in the city, and their report goes up to the palace. The rest of the story reveals that not everyone responded to their report; the lepers simply declared it.
Hear the lesson of the four lepers as applied to us as witnesses of Jesus Christ, who is the BEST news of all. (I’d ask for a little indulgence from biblical scholars as I diverge into a more allegorical application of the text.)
- They were desperate. Are we? Or are we simply casual – both about our needs before God and the needs of the world we touch?
- They were part of a community under siege. Many of us see the Christian church this way – surrounded by “the world” but fearful of venturing out.
- They took a risk, which involved leaving their safety zone, risking their lives and venturing out. Few of us risk our lives – but we’re still afraid to enter “the world.”
- They discovered that God had already gone before them – by confusing and scattering the enemy. When we venture out, we discover the same truth.
- They realized together that they had “good news”. Many times it takes a community discovery to enable us to take correct action.
- They risked social rejection by reporting their “good news” – after all, they were lepers.
- The entire community received their message of good news, even though not everyone responded in faith.
So then, in a world besieged by the spiritual captivity of sin, don’t be silent. This IS the day of Good News. Don’t keep it to yourself.