Readings: Acts 24-26.
There’s something very powerful about testimonies. Millions of people have come to faith in Jesus through hearing someone else’s testimony of his influence on their lives. Often the testimonies we most celebrate are stories of people who have been redeemed by Jesus from obvious and life-controlling patterns of sin. While we are not wrong to celebrate these testimonies, such an emphasis has been known to lead those with less “rock and roll” testimonies to feel that theirs is not powerful.
What’s interesting is that if you speak to someone who has a “rock and roll” testimony, many of them might say that they wish they had just faithfully walked with Jesus instead of making all the mistakes which make up their testimony. While we acknowledge that all our experiences add up to make us the person we are, influencing the way we understand and interact with God, it is not uncommon to wish we had not made certain mistakes. Moreover, it is important for us to understand that all testimonies are powerful.
In today’s reading, Paul has the amazing opportunity to share his testimony with two of the most important men in Israel at the time. While they may not have fallen to their knees asking to know what they must do to be saved, they were convinced enough by Paul’s testimony that they declared him innocent of the charges brought against him by the Jewish leaders, so much so that they would have released him then and there had he not appealed to Caesar. We may wonder if Paul perhaps should not have done this, but as we know from history, God had his own purposes at work.
The takeaway from this episode of Paul’s life for us is this: do not think of your testimony as something which cannot be used by God. Whether your story is one of Jesus radically saving you out of life-controlling sin or of your faith gradually growing as you walked with Jesus over the course of years, there is great power in your testimony. This is evident in my own marriage. I decided to follow Jesus after he healed me from addiction to pornography; Annie asked Jesus to be her special friend at a very young age and discovered a growing faith even as she herself grew up. I find Annie’s testimony incredibly powerful and encouraging.
What is your testimony? Are you open to Jesus using your story to bring other people to him?