This week at Women’s Bible Study I taught on the first half of Philippians 3 in which Paul confronts some spiritually toxic religious leaders. They are trying to add stipulations to the Gospel–namely the Jewish law–and Paul is irate. His subsequent response to them is both clever and challenging, and I learned a lot in my research this week. In case you missed my talk, the audio is below:[audio:https://sheworships.com/media/Philippians_4.mp3]
One of the things I mention in my talk that I wanted to highlight on my blog as well is Paul’s testimony. It’s totally different than how we think of testimonies today. Generally when someone is asked to share their testimony at church, it’s because they have a really dramatic story. Before Christ their life was in the gutter, but then they got saved and now they’re completely different. That kind of thing.
Paul’s testimony, on the other hand, doesn’t go that route. If you read Philippians 3:4-6 Paul essentially shares his testimony, but he does so in a surprising way. He describes his life before Christ, but what is striking about his story is that he emphasizes how good he was, not how bad. In fact, his life pre-Jesus was pretty much all that he hoped it would be and more. He was perfectly happy and content. He was on the road to success, and he thought he had a good standing before God.
But then God intervened, opened Paul’s eyes, and the rest is history.
Now I don’t know about you, but I take a lot of comfort in Paul’s testimony because I always thought my testimony was lame. I never had a rebellious phase. I was a good kid who always did what I thought was right. Along the way I heard about Jesus and it sounded right to me, so I began to follow Him.
Not exactly the kind of story that your church will make a video about.
Yet Paul’s testimony reminds us of something very important: EVERY testimony is powerful. You see, we talk about non-Christians as if they’re all miserable and they hate their lives so we need to show them a better way. But that’s simply not true. A lot of non-Christians are perfectly content and happy with their lives. They don’t think they need anything else. To these people, Christianity is merely a lifesaver to those who are drowning–it’s just one more self-help option among many, but not something they really need.
It is for this demographic that “lame” testimonies like mine are important. For those people who believe religion is just an “opiate for the masses,” our lives prove otherwise. Not all of us came to Christ because we’d hit rock bottom. For some of us, we heard the Gospel and knew it was true. That was all it took. And for others, we had everything the world had to offer but we knew that there had to be something more. And then we found Christ.
These are less dramatic stories and they don’t get very much attention, but your testimony is powerful to someone. So own it! Tell you story to people. Why do you follow Jesus? What brought you to him? Your story doesn’t have to be dramatic, but you DO have to have a reason. So don’t be ashamed of the way you became a Christian. If you’re like Paul, then you’re in good company!