The following are the notes from this week’s CROSSROADS lesson. Words in bold identify key phrases from notes pages handed out each week. If you would like copies of our slides, please feel free to reach and request them. As these are from the notes pages for each week, please excuse any typos or grammatical errors.
This lesson is part of a series called “What Does It Mean To Be A Christian”. To see an overview of this series, click HERE.
In Zach Williams’ song “Chain Breaker”, he writes “if you believe it, if you receive it, if you can feel it, somebody testify.” This begs the question… what does it mean to ‘testify’?
It’s a nice song, but what would our church (or our youth group) do if someone interrupted everything and started testifying? Pastor Frank actually put that challenge to the church last Sunday and asked if anyone wanted to testify. Crickets. For some reason, we all say that we have this amazing God that is capable of all these wonderful things, but when we get a chance to talk about God to someone individually or in a group, we get embarrassed like it’s something shameful to discuss.
John the evangelist… the John who wrote the gospel of John… wrote a letter while sitting in Ephesus where he explains the importance of providing your testimony.
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— that life was revealed, and we have seen it and we testify and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1-3)
In this short passage, we see a couple of important facts about what our testimony contains.
First, our testimony reveals what we KNOW about God. Look how in the first verse John talks about ‘what was from the beginning’ and ‘what we have heard’. In the second verse he talks about ‘eternal life that […] was revealed to us’. When we provide a testimony to someone, we are telling them what this thing is that we have in our lives. Many people know the ‘basics’, or at least some version of it, but there is a lot of bad information out there. Just as we stated a commitment for Christ must start with knowledge of Christ, our testimony has some element of saying who we know God to be in our lives.
Second, our testimony reveals what we EXPERIENCE in our walk with Christ. Look at how John talks about ‘what we have seen and heard’ in the third verse. When you boil a testimony down, that’s really all it is. Who is God and what has he done in your life? For some, our experiences stop at experiencing a calling to accept him into our hearts. For others, it’s a calling to recommit to a life dedicated to God. To others, it’s a calling to action like church involvement or even ministry. Everyone has different experiences, and that’s perfectly fine! The goal isn’t drama; it’s communicating.
With what’s in a testimony in mind, why are we giving a testimony? We just said that your testimony isn’t about drama and intrigue, yet that’s often what it becomes. We assume that our testimony is unexciting because we haven’t done anything that would look good in a Hollywood script. That’s putting the focus in the wrong place. John says that we share these testimonies so that ‘you may also have fellowship with us […] with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ’. You see, the purpose in a testimony isn’t to share with people who awesome your ‘God story’ is; it’s to share what you know God can do with someone else so that they might decide there is something worth pursuing in this “God” after all. When you tell others about your testimony, you are hoping that they see God, not you. In other words, a testimony is about other people’s BENEFIT, not our own REPUTATION.
Now I want you to think about YOUR testimony. How would you describe who God is and how would you describe your experiences? It seems like a simple question, but it’s hard figuring out how you actually describe something as big as “experiencing God”.
A lot of people have come up with different ways of helping students figure out how to describe their testimony. The most popular is probably this: who did you used to be, how did you come to Christ, and who are you now? To be totally honest with you, I don’t really think this works for a lot of Christians, especially those who grew up in the church and maybe weren’t ever really “Hell raisers”. For many of you, who you were before Christ might, on the outside, look pretty similar to how you look today. That’s why I like to think of testimonies this way…
- When did you decide to commit to a real relationship with God?
- What impact did your decision make in the short-term?
- What impact do you see in your life today?
All three of these are questions that people who are really following Christ should be able to answer. Your answer to one of these might be a little abstract, but you’ll have one. Say you didn’t really have a “single moment” you came to Christ, but a series of moments. That becomes part of your answer to the first question. Say you just recently made a commitment, as some of you have now. That means your answer to the last two will be pretty similar, but over time it hopefully changes because you’ll grow in your relationship with God. Any way you cut it, this seems like a good guide to use to describe your testimony.
To help you guys understand this a bit more, I’ve asked a few of our volunteers and spiritual leaders to give us their testimonies. I want you to listen to each one of these and listen to when they made their commitment and how it impacted their lives in the days after and even to this day.