“…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” –Acts 1:8, ESV
When I hear the word “witness,” my mind conjures up a picture of someone sitting in court, giving testimony to whatever he saw, heard, or experienced that the court proceeding finds relevant. In truth, my mind isn’t too far off of the actual definition of being a witness, which means to serve by testimony. I just need to break it out of the narrowed venue. Being a witness for Christ is something that all believers are called to do everywhere, at all times, and with everyone.
If we take a look at the actual Greek of Jesus’ words, I think we get an even better picture of what this calling really entails. The Greek word translated to “witness” is martys. It is the same word from which we get the word “martyr.” Bible translators translate martys into both witness and martyr. It amazes me that the same word is used to produce two words which are vastly different in our American minds. Giving your testimony is merely stating words of truth when called into account. Being a martyr means standing by that testimony to the point of death.
When Jesus calls us to be His witnesses, He is wanting more than for us to stand up in a court of law and tell the truth about Him. He wants us to go everywhere and tell everyone the truth about Him, even if it results in suffering or death. This understanding is much more in line with what Jesus taught about being His disciple. In Luke 14:26 Jesus says that anyone who doesn’t despise his own life cannot be His disciple. Later in verse 33, He says, “Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”
If you are not willing to meet the conditions of being a disciple, then you cannot call yourself one. And if you aren’t a disciple of Christ, then can you call yourself a Christian? Can you consider yourself saved? I think it is something for us all to consider.
In the July 2nd entry of My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers wrote, “There is a difference between devotion to a Person and devotion to principles or to a cause. Our Lord never proclaimed a cause; He proclaimed personal devotion to Himself. To be a disciple is to be a devoted love-slave of the Lord Jesus. Many of us who call ourselves Christians are not devoted to Jesus Christ.”
A disciple of Christ is devoted to Jesus Christ, not to the cause of Christianity or Christian principles. We are not to be devoted to a concept, but to the Person of Jesus. When we find ourselves more devoted to the Church or to a ministry or to a role or to a value, we have made an idol (replaced Christ and His proper position in our lives) with things that should be evidence of our devotion to Christ. It’s like being in love with the idea of love rather than the actual person. You can be devoted to the idea of Christ and Christ-likeness without being devoted to the actual person.
Jesus said that we should count the cost before undertaking something of enormous magnitude (Luke 14:28-32). There is nothing of greater magnitude or importance than being a disciple of Christ, and the cost to undertake it is everything.
Are you willing to surrender everything out of devotion to Jesus? Are you willing to be His witness to the point of suffering or death? Are you willing to surrender control and follow? Being a disciple isn’t just about getting into Heaven. It is about answering a call to a lifestyle of learning, obeying, and being transformed.