A Testimony That Transforms

afroHer name is Rachel Jeantel.  At the time, 19 years young, Ms. Jeantel was called upon by state attorneys in Florida to testify on behalf of her childhood friend, Trayvon Martin, who had been viciously killed by a man by the name of George Zimmerman.  The case had garnered national attention, and this young woman, armed only with a conviction to tell the truth and a devotion to right the wrong done to her friend, bravely and boldly took to the witness stand to testify.  As she began to speak, her phrasing and word choice were made more relevant than the truth she lovingly attempted to express. Her units of language didn’t fit into the scope of what many would deem intelligent.  After her testimony, suggestions were made about her acuteness, her family, her value, and whether or not she helped the prosecution or not. Rachel was left to deal with the question of whether or not her testimony was enough to change the situation for the better.  Regardless of the decision to be herself, her testimony was devalued and deemed ineffective because it reflected who she was.

I think that one of the major benefits of Christianity is that you and I are not subject to this same type of derision from God as we attempt to testify to the actuality of Jesus.  In Christ, we have license and liberty to testify to what we know Jesus to be within the framework of who we are at the time.  We do not have to be what our hearers may desire us to be nor are we shackled by the preferences of those who are privy to our professions.

I would contend that part of our call, as Christians, is to make the existence of our Lord and Savior real to all whom we encounter. We do this through our testimonies; the moments where we share the certainty and concreteness of God with those who may not know Him for themselves.  The Lord surely has been good to us all; opened doors, performed miracles, & delivered us from the dark places of our lives. And as God shows himself real to us, our testimonies ought make God real to others.

From how we carry ourselves, to the way we converse, to the company we keep, all that we involve ourselves with give testimony to the relationship we have with Jesus Christ.  Its these testimonies that actual transform things around us.

Transformational testimony is needed in our present day. Our nation and world are in need those who have come to know Jesus to share Jesus. The reality of our God is in such question not because of how God is portrayed but how God is relayed.

We find an example of just how transformational our testimonies can be in the fourth chapter of John’s Gospel.  Jesus, king of the Jews, has had interaction with a Samaritan woman at the well. Much like Rachel, her sex, ethnicity, and background were all considered marks against her by the empire she was living under. Regardless, this Jewish man and Samaritan woman find themselves in conversation. This interaction with the Messiah prompts her to go back to her community and share her personal experience with Christ. The experience has moved her in such a way that she now has to give a testimony.

Carrying the same commitment to truth that Rachel Jeantel would be left to lift centuries later, she goes back to Samaria to share of her experience with Jesus.  She does not look for the right words or the perfect parlance to entice her audience.  All she does is share what happened to her when she came in contact with Jesus.  The Bible shows us that this woman’s testimony led to those in her community inviting Jesus into their lives and ultimately accepting Him for themselves.

We ought learn from the example of these two women. The type of courageous testimonies declared by these women are absent from our attempts at ministry.  Perhaps, this is the reason why the renewal that Jesus desires to see in this world is also absent.

The qualifier for sharing your personal encounter with Jesus is a personal encounter with Jesus.  As Christ changes us, our testimonies have the ability to change our world and those who live in it.  Is your testimony an ineffective one or is your testimony one that transforms?

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Derrick Holmes

Derrick Holmes is the Senior Pastor of Second Baptist Church in Circleville, Ohio. He regularly attempts to think through intersections of religion, race, and culture. A closet introvert, Derrick presently resides in Columbus, Ohio where his quest for New York style pizza & knishes is ongoing. Follow him on Twitter @mrderrickholmes

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Posted on: February 1, 2016

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