If someone were to ask you to share your testimony, what would you say? If you are like most Christians, you would tell how you came to accept Jesus as your Savior. That is our common understanding of what a Christian testimony is, unfortunately.
It is unfortunate because if our testimony is confined to the story of our conversion, then it is like someone asking us about a book we have read and we tell them about only the first chapter. The story that God is writing in our lives encompasses much more than how we first came to know him. There are many more chapters that have been written and that are being written over the course of our lives that should be worthy of sharing. At least, that is what the Lord desires to do.
But could it be true that after our conversion, the writing, as many of us perceive it, stopped? Could it be that after accepting Jesus as our Savior, we, in essence, told the Lord to put his pen down? Perhaps we decided we could take up the story from there and we took control.
I have known thousands of students and adults over my lifetime who have only one chapter to share of their story with God. It begins and ends with their conversion. Yes, the first chapter is always miraculous, but it ends far too soon. And, sadly, there is a wide audience that is satisfied only hearing that one chapter. A dear friend of mine told me recently that a pastor had asked him to share his testimony at his church. He had heard about his dramatic conversion and wanted his congregation to hear it. My friend was reluctant because he knew the pastor only wanted the first chapter recited, but beyond that one, many more have been written. He wanted to tell a lot more of the story because he believes it is as exciting, perhaps more so, than how it began.
It seems like the Church often gets stuck on the lower elementary level of the spiritual life. When we should be well into higher levels of learning and living, we are still in elementary school. Read the words of the Hebrew writer as he rebuked and exhorted his audience:
In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so. (Hebrews 5:12-6:3)
What the Hebrew writer describes as traits of spiritual infancy are most common in many churches today. We are stuck, yet content, living out the first chapter of our spiritual lives with little interest in allowing the Lord to write further.
While my friend did have a miraculous conversion, the Lord has continued to do amazing things in and through his life. He has grown tremendously. And like the mature believer he is, he wants to talk about those chapters. I, for one, enjoy hearing them; I only wish more did.
It really is the basis for authentic fellowship with other believers. Yes, it is good to hear from the each other the first chapter of our Christian lives. But then what? If other chapters are not being written, then we have nothing more to share. And isn’t that often the case in our fellowship halls and our Bible Study groups. We may have prayer requests, but how many of us have testimonies of what the Lord IS doing in our lives that we can share for the edification of our brothers and sisters? Of course, there are a lot who do and I am thankful to hear them. Yet so many do not.
If you are one of the latter, one who believes you only have one chapter to tell, then perhaps it’s time to allow the Lord to begin to write some new chapters for your Christian testimony. That testimony is to be the story of God’s ongoing work in and through our lives, not merely the story of our conversion.
© Jim Musser 2020 Scripture reference is from the New International Version.