“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” – Matthew 10:16-20
The following is typical verbiage that appears in a legal document called “Summons to Witness”:
“You are entitled to be paid the same personal allowances for your attendance at the hearings as are paid for attendance of a witness summoned to attend before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. If you fail to attend and give evidence at the inquiry at the time and place specified, without lawful excuse, you are liable to punishment by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in the same manner as if for contempt of that Court for disobedience to a summons.”
Some time ago, a dear friend of ours received a Summons to Witness before an Ontario Court of Justice. She called me to ask what this was all about. She was very concerned as to why she had received one in the first place. I told her that she had nothing to worry about. She is just being called to testify, i.e. to recount what she has witnessed during a certain event that had legal implications.
In certain summons, just like the one my mother also received some time back, personal allowances can be given to attend such hearings. This would happen when one is asked to participate as a juror in a case that’s being heard in court. One can be held legally liable for failure to obey such summons as you can see in the language expressed in the document.
Those who come into a personal relationship with Christ, who received Him as Lord and Saviour are also “summoned” by the Lord to witness for Him. In contrast with a legal summons, there is no commitment of compensation because to witness for Christ is compelled by love (2 Cor. 5:14). Though there is an expectation that those who become children of God do tell others about their faith, there is no punishment for not doing so. But this should not cause us to abandon this call by God to tell others about Him.
This is a good time to review some key principles of witnessing:
1. Witnessing is not converting. Only God has power to change people’s hearts. (1 Sam 10:9)
2. Witnessing will always yield fruit though we don’t see its results always. (Isaiah 55:11)
3. Witnessing is not an easy spiritual discipline, which is why the Bible tells us that to be filled with the Holy Spirit is a key ingredient to have before one can witness for Christ. (Acts 1:8)
4. Witnessing is a command not an option. The Bible says we “will be His witness” not “we may be witness” (Acts 22:15).
5. The Bible tells us that as we are called to witness to those who are spiritually searching, we are also called to witness to those who oppose our faith (Matthew 10:18)
6. Witnessing is not just mere words. This is a key to witnessing, but the greatest testimony we give is how we live our lives. (John 13:35)
Let love [not legality] summon you to witness for Christ.