Called as a Witness

(View the sermon here.)

TEXT: Acts 1:6-14
TITLE:  “Called As a Witness”
THESIS: We are called – and sent – as witnesses to Jesus.

Introduction

  • I could easily preach six different sermons from this text, but I want to focus this one on Jesus’ words: You will be my witnesses.
  • What is a witness? Someone who can say, “I was there. I saw it. This is what happened.” … Sometimes witnesses in court disagree about what they saw and heard, and their experiences were different. But they speak publicly and give clear testimony – witness – to that experience.
  • Christians are called – and sent out into the world – to be witnesses to what God has done through Jesus and by the Spirit. … What God has done and is still doing. – The UCC motto is true: “God is still speaking.” The Spirit still works in this world, in and through us – and others – to do what God wants.

Scripture

  • V. 8 is our focus – You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes and be my witnesses to the ends of the earth. – The Greek word for “power” is where we get dynamite. This is an explosive ability to change things. The Spirit of God at work within us makes a difference – transforming our world.
  • How? By giving our life to follow Jesus – taking up the cross of loving others to death, if necessary – to give up our lives out of love for others and for God. The Gk. word for witness is also translated martyr. But not a physical martyr – a willing heart to give ourselves to God and to others out of generous love.

Conclusion

  • We witness best by our lives – by what we do and not what we say (or not just what we say). The best witness for Jesus is a life totally given up to God and to God’s ways – to follow Jesus by giving up our lives in love as Jesus did.
  • A familiar hymn says “They will know we are Christians by our love.” – Not by our doctrines, worship styles, what we believe about social issues, certainly not our politics – but by our love. …. Jesus said: By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Jn 13:34)
  • When trial witnesses don’t agree, how do we know what is true? When people who claim to be Christians give a different witness to who they say Jesus is and what God wants to happen, how do other people know what is true?
  • We are called to be witnesses to Jesus – to who he was in this life – his words and actions – because who he was is who he is today. And Jesus said, “If you know me, you have known the Father.” – When we follow Jesus, living as Jesus lived and putting into practice what he taught, loving God and others without holding back, ready to give our lives for the world – when we live this way, we are his witnesses.
  • In years to come, what will we tell our children and grandchildren about the year 2020? The year of COVID-19? – Will we tell them about fear of dying? Or tell them about anger because we thought we were not free to live as we want? Will we tell them about deep divisions among the people and the hatred and bigotry we saw that year …. Or will we tell them how people loved one another and took care of each other? How people literally sacrificed their lives to provide care for the sick and the dying? How most of us were willing to give up some of our “freedoms” for months so that more people would stay healthy and stay alive?
  • What will be our witness? I hope that it will be a witness of love – a witness to what it means to love others and serve one another and give up our freedoms and “rights” so that others might live. … In part, this is what it can mean to be a witness to Jesus.
  • When the Spirit comes, you will receive a transforming ability to love God and to love people – and as you live in this way, you will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.

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