We talk about the wrong things. As a Church I think we focus too much on politics and ideologies when talking with the world or even within the Church itself. Don’t get me wrong. We should be actively involved as citizens. We should care about the worldview folks around us have. But I think we’ve given them too much priority over simply testifying to how God is working in our churches and in our individual lives. I think talking about what God is doing is more important than talking about red and blue states and which talking head is the most obnoxious.
Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply. But when they had ordered them to leave the Council, they began to confer with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name.”
And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened; for the man was more than forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.
– Acts 4:13-22, NASB
Peter and John didn’t get in trouble because they were talking about the Roman government. And they didn’t get in trouble because they were talking about the Sanhedrin or the Pharisees. They got into trouble because they were spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. They were sharing the Gospel. They were telling people what God had done. And when God chose to intervene in a miraculous way, as He did with a man who asked Peter for alms (Acts 3:1-10) but who received healing instead, Peter and John talked about that, too. That’s why they said, “we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” They wanted to testify. They wanted to give their testimonies. They wanted people to know that God was active, that He was moving among His people, that He was showing His love through powerful signs and miracles. They weren’t interested in talking about what tax collector was the worst or what the color of the carpet was in the synagogue and how it clashed with the pews. They were talking about the movement of God in their lives. That’s what they got into trouble for. Why did that get them into trouble?
It was working. A personal testimony is powerful. There will always be doubters, sure, but for someone who is seeking to know if God is real, a personal testimony gives evidence to that. For someone struggling to trust God in a tough situation, a personal testimony provides reassurance, hope, and support. For a believer who is going hard for what the Lord is calling him to do, a personal testimony is like a super energy boost, giving increased confidence and motivation to see that calling through. And the religious leaders saw the impact the testimony about Jesus was having. So they told Peter and John to hush. They didn’t want to hear any more about this Jesus guy. But Peter and John put it back to them. Those two apostles were going to preach Christ crucified and what He had done and what He was doing. It didn’t matter who threatened them. What mattered was who saved them.
We don’t give testimony enough in our churches nowadays. One reason, I think, is because we don’t sense God is moving. We’ve got everything figured out. Committees. Procedures. Budgets. Man-made organization and processes to run everything. There’s just one problem with all of that. It leaves no room for God. Now I’m not against organization. I’m very much for it. But we can get so caught up in our procedures that we push God out of the way. And the procedures become our “god” for handling everything under the sun. Since we’ve excluded God, there’s no point for Him to work among us. There’s no point to deliver something to which we can testify on what we’ve seen and what we’ve heard. Let’s stop this nonsense. Look to trust God. Let Him move in your life. And when He does, tell folks. If God has done something for you recently, when you go to church this weekend, tell folks. Give a personal testimony. Start a revolution within your church which seeks to talk about what we’ve seen and what we’ve heard about God’s presence in our lives. If the opportunity presents itself, share it with your family, with your co-workers, with the stranger at the gas pump. Let’s follow John and Peter’s example. Let’s be so ready to tell our story that no one can stop us. Let’s let the world see that God is real and that He is moving among His people.