Thursday, August 16, 2012

Distinctive Witness

Thursday: 16 August, 2012 –– 19th Week in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 12:1–12 / Matthew 18:21–19:1
Distinctive Witness

I wish all Christians understood their calling to be different. God’s people are to have distinctive lives.  I like to use the word “distinctive” (in the context of belonging to Jesus) because it seems to be a good way to express the meaning of holy in contemporary idiom.  Our calling as Christians is to be holy –– distinctive, for Jesus’ sake.

One reason is that faith makes a difference in a person’s life. Faith is a way of seeing.  Faith is being able to “see” what people without faith do not think is there. So if one facet of Christian Faith is believing we are accountable to a holy God, then Christian life will be distinctive –– different than the life of a person who does not believe such a thing.

Christian Faith calls us to say and do what often is not understood. As we reflect on Ezekiel’s story, we realize that sometimes God asks his people to say and do what is threatening and even offensive to the onlooking society. The more rebellious a culture is to God, the greater the misunderstanding –– and also the more intense the offense when God’s people faithfully speak and practice truth.

When faithful witness is received as threatening, there is one crucial way to give distinctive witness that is not so confrontational. In the Gospel, Jesus tells those who would follow him that the way to give a most distinctive witness is to forgive.... again and again and again.  Christians are to be people who seek to forgive in such a way that people without faith can’t help but notice and ask, “How can you do that?”

The answer is found in our faith. Because faith is believing we are accountable to a holy God, each of us should never be able to escape the implication: We forgive much because we have been forgiven much.

As we hope to be witnesses of God’s truth –– as we seek to speak and act distinctively for Jesus’ sake –– our starting point should always be the awareness that we ourselves have the privilege of knowing God only because we have begun to understand what it took for God to forgive us. This is a distinctive witness of Christian Faith.

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