Holding Trials And Slaying Sheep
He was a relatively new believer. He hadn’t yet learned that he was not supposed to share his testimony with anyone who would listen. So, with enthusiasm, he shared the following with the waitress in the almost-empty all night diner in the inner city. “As the invitation was given, I stood in the church afraid to go forward. But I really became convicted, so I stepped into the aisle, went forward, and was washed in the blood of the Lamb!”
Sounds like a good testimony to those of us of the church scene. We resonate with the fear of going forward, the conviction, and the efficacy of the shed blood of Christ in atoning for our sins. But, the girl behind the counter of that inner-city diner was shocked. She had run away from home at the age of 14. She had been raised in a nominal Catholic home. Now at the age of 32, anything religious was experienced through the filter of that nominal Roman Catholic upbringing. She had not participated in any church or religious activities since she left home. We can only imagine her reaction to that testimony.
When she heard “invitation” perhaps she thought that there must have been a wedding, or a confirmation to involve an invitation. When he said that he was “afraid to go forward”, her frame of reference may have caused her to wonder why anyone would be afraid to go forward in church. She could vaguely remember going forward to receive communion, and that was certainly not something to be afraid of.
Then he told how he felt “convicted”. Now she was beginning to experience a little shock. “Wow”, she thought, “they must hold trials in that church.” The only thing she knew about “convictions” was related to what occurred in court rooms.
When he said he was “washed in the blood of the Lamb”, she probably wished that she had some more customers so that she would have an excuse to leave this young man to his own musings. I can almost hear the gears of her mind as she considered, “This is worse than I thought. They kill sheep in that church!”
I have used this illustration many times as I have shared with believers the importance of learning to share their testimonies without using “churchy” words. Or, to put it another way, “Don’t speak the language of Zion to those who are not members of Zion.” There are some words that should not be included in a testimony when we are sharing with the unchurched unless you have a lot of time to define and explain the terms. Such words as “conviction”, “saved”, and even the word “Christian” have come to mean so many things to so many people.
A testimony that communicates a relationship with Jesus Christ, and an assurance of living forever in eternity can be shared without using the theological terms that are unfamiliar to those who have never been touched with the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. Give it a try. Let me challenge you to sit down and write out your personal testimony with the prospect of sharing it with the waitress in that diner.
Next month, I will have more to say about sharing your personal story, and will share a sample testimony that leaves out churchy words.
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