Bad witness


“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” -Luke 10:36-37 (NIV)

I saw a photo shared on my Facebook feed recently that said, “People who walked away from God because of a person put their faith in people, not God.” To that I’d say not quite.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard about people who have turned away from God because of a poor witness experience–in other words, an unpleasant or even traumatic interaction with poor ambassadors of God’s love. I was also turned off for many years by watching self-professed Christians act in the very ways that would make me never want to be like them.

As true believers, we can all have our moments when our flesh gets in the way of our witness, but it’s crucial that we refine our walk and our witness daily. The world closely watches professed believers, and when we act no different than unbelievers, we do them–and God–a great disservice.

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, it wasn’t either of the first two men–a priest and a Levite, both followers of God–who helped the beaten man, but a man from Samaria who selflessly tended to the injured man. As Jesus taught the Mosaic lawyer who questioned Him, it was the Samaritan who went above and beyond to help and show mercy to his neighbor. The two God-followers actually bore bad witness to God’s love.

Of interest in this parable is that the Samaritan man was one the Jews looked down on…but the one who demonstrated what Jesus wanted the lawyer–and us–to practice: it’s one thing to know that we should love God with all our heart and soul and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5), but it’s another thing to live it.

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  1. This lesson is an accurate and invaluable example of how we as Christians are to treat others. Since we claim Christ as our Lord, we represent him everywhere we go. My pastor recently posed the question – if people were watching how you read the bible, how you pray, how you serve, how you react, how you seek Jesus, will they be discipled?

    Just like the ‘offensive’ team in a football game, we are to make sure our moves are in kindness and love at all times.

    But what about the ‘defensive’ team? When any situation occurs, there is usually a ‘wrong’ and a ‘right’ or a ‘victim’ and a ‘perpetrator’ in the action – a ‘defense’ move to an ‘offensive’ move.

    God tells us to endure, to persevere, to remain steadfast, to repay evil with kindness. Those commands reveal that we will endure unkind acts and that we have a responsibility of how we react to them.

    The statement that “People who walked away from God because of a person put their faith in people, not God.” has a deep meaning that ignores the offensive obligation and strictly addresses the side of the defensive player. That player has a choice of whether to leverage the offense as an excuse to bow out of obedience to God’s plan or to stay the course and recognize the enemy at work, which is the harder road – the burden of the cross.

    If I walked away from my church when my pastor’s wife brushed me off when I said tried to say hello, my life would be void of the blessings that I’ve encountered since that moment. Don’t get me wrong, it pinched, more like stung, hard, like a wasp. But in my moment of shame, I decided to trust the Lord and step up my game to more mature level. I didn’t put my faith in how she (as an icon in the church) values me as a person, instead I remembered how my God knit me in my mother’s womb and has great plans for my life – I kept my eye on the Lord and consoled myself with the knowledge that God will deal with her personally and that by not reacting, I actually have the upper hand, because I see the truth and she is blind to her own unkindness.

    Sometimes the situation is more serious than this example and there is a good reason to walk away maturely. The enemy will use those closest to you to tear you down. In many cases, it’s not serious enough to leave all the good behind.

    We need to be sure when we have the opportunity to play the offense that we are the hands and feet of Christ (the good Samaritan) And when we are in the defensive seat, we also have to keep our guard up and our eye on the Kingdom so that we don’t lose out on the blessings God has for us in the next scene of his great movie……… Andrea

    • Catalyzing Agent

      Thank you for the great comment, Andrea! We do indeed need to give our best in every breath, action, and reaction for His glory!

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