One of the most difficult things about being a Christian is explaining what Jesus Christ has done in your life without sounding like a holier-than-thou, know it all, jerk.
I recently heard that more church time should be granted to people giving testimonies. I’m hesitant to agree with that.
Most testimonies I’ve heard go one of two ways:
- They celebrate past sin and brag about how evil their past life was.
- They celebrate how wonderful their current life is and launch into, “So be more like me and you will be happy like me” lecturing.
If you’re unlucky, you’ll hear testimonies that include both. Oi. Both tendencies are based on pride.
Those who blather on about their past awesomely sinful life, don’t really sound all that repentant. Rarely are tears included. Instead, one gets the idea this is a self-absorbed brag session with hints of the Jerry Springer show.
I have heard many testimonies glorying in the current spiritual awesomeness of the testator, only to have the testator take a fall soon after. Be careful for pride in your testimony.
Now, my cynicism about testimonies may say more about me than those testifying. One reason people don’t like testimonies is because it makes us feel ashamed or at least lazy or ineffective. I am more than willing to include this as an option.
One of the worst things people can do in giving a testimony is to lecture people about doing what they did.
I’m glad you have experienced growth, that’s tremendous. But the way your growth occurs may not be the way another person’s growth occurs. Yet 90% of “Let me tell you how I’ve grown” testimonies go on to say, “so you should do it just like me.”
I grew because I adopted a kid. You should adopt a kid too.
I grew because I went to Honduras. You should go to Honduras too.
I grew because I moved to the inner city. You should move to the inner city too.
I grew because my wife had an affair. Your wife should have an affair too.
OK, I’ve heard all of those except the last one, but it proves my point on the ridiculousness of such statements.
Hebrews 11 is the great chapter of faith, our great cloud of witnesses who had real faith. Their faith wasn’t just their opinion about their faith either! This is who God thinks had great faith.
Note that each person had completely different things happen to them. Note that each person’s faith was demonstrated differently.
God knows each of us as individuals. Conformity is what the world does. Anytime you hear a “Christian” telling you to do everything they do, know you are hearing the spirit of the world rather than the Spirit of Christ.
We’re all different. Different is OK. Many members having different gifts. The goal is spiritual transformation, not conformity to other people.
I’m glad you grew spiritually, just don’t shove your experience down someone else’s throat and potentially block the role of the Holy Spirit.
When it comes to testimonies, I lean toward forgetting those things that are behind until I can figure out how to share my experience without veering into danger. You can do as you choose, because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
Testimonies should ultimately be about Christ. Make sure yours is.