The fifth recommended spiritual disciple of the DOC is witness and service.  In the introductory brochure of the Order, this discipline is defined as a “creative effort to share the good news of the Christian faith and to minister to the needs of others.”  Since there are two discrete elements to this discipline: “witness” and “service,” I will address them separately.  
 
WITNESS
 
            Among Christians “witnessing” is a term that has many nuances.  On one end of the spectrum, some think of it strictly as evangelism.  They use some particular, pointed verbal technique to covert people to Christ.  On the opposite end, others think of witnessing as “lifestyle evangelism,” which they understand to be living the Christian life before unbelievers with no verbal interplay unless it is requested.  And there are many other approaches that lie between these poles.  The truth is, both deed and word are necessary.  Without a Christian lifestyle that demonstrates the word, the word will have no effect.  And the spoken word without the lifestyle is empty of strength.  For me, living the Christian life before others is essential, but so is talking with people about Jesus (whether they are believers or unbelievers).  Three are two important implications here.  One is the necessity for deed and word in all of our witnessing; and two is the fact that not all witnessing is an attempt to convert unbelievers.  Sometimes it is a matter of encouraging believers. 
 
            Before moving on it is important to mention that witnessing is the responsibility of all Christians.  One does not need a supernatural gift of evangelism to be a witness.  Talking to people about Jesus is basically the same as talking to them about football or recipes.  We talk about what interests us; and Spirit-filled Christians are interested in Jesus. 
 
            Now then, I want to turn to three necessities for anyone who witnesses for Christ.  The first necessity, especially when witnessing to unbelievers, is sensitivity to the Spirit of Christ.  I admire, in a way, those who seem determined to share the good news about Jesus with everyone with whom they come in contact.  That is, I admire their dedication and zeal.  But I never have been able to function that way.  I need to have some reason to speak, some opening in the conversation, and a nudge from the Holy Spirit.  As a result, I undoubtedly have missed opportunities to share the Gospel, because I was not sensitive to the Holy Spirit.  I regret those occasions; but they were my fault, not his.  At any rate, we must commit ourselves to learning how to “hear” the Holy Spirit’s nudges about speaking to another person about the Lord, because it is so easy to fail to “listen” to the Spirit.  . 
 
            Second, as we learn to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, we must at the same time, develop a willingness to allow God to love others through us.  Many of us, if we are honest with ourselves, have not done well with either of these first two requirements.  We haven’t given much attention to learning how to “hear” the Holy Spirit, and we have not allowed the Spirit to fill us with his love to the point where his love for everyone becomes the primary motivating factor in our lives.  But we will never be good witnesses for Christ until we do these things. 
 
            Third, we must be willing to take the time necessary to talk about Jesus with those around us and to minister to them if that opportunity flows out of the witness.  In other words, if we succeed in learning to “hear” the Spirit, and we are willing to let the Lord love others through us, opportunities to witness will arise.  So we must commit ourselves ahead of time to take the necessary time to witness and minister when we have the opportunity.  All of us are incredibly busy in this day and age.  We always have another place to go, another thing to do; and thus, we feel cramped for time.  That is why it is critical that we commit ourselves to taking the time to talk with others about Jesus, because God’s timing is crucial. 
 
            Many times people witness to unbelievers by telling their testimony.  There is nothing wrong with that; and indeed, the Spirit might move us to do that; but it is not a good thing to do all of the time.  Sometimes a personal testimony is effective with an unbeliever; but usually it will be more effective to encourage believers.  Many unbelievers have no interest in hearing about what happened to us.  Most of them are fairly happy with their lives and have no conscious desire to be different.  They are especially not interested in hearing about things we no longer do (e.g., smoke, drink, etc.).  In the area of lifestyle, they are much more interested in seeing the positive fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) at work in our lives.  So we must rely more on the power of the Spirit in our lives and the power of the gospel in our words and less on what has happened to us.
 
            Speaking of the power of the gospel, we must never forget that Jesus is the focus of our message.  The more we speak about him, about who he is, what he did and why, the more powerful will be our witness. 
 
            To conclude this part on witnessing, I would like to share, with slight modification, some points made many years ago by Rosalind Rinker in her little book, You Can Witness With Confidence (pp. 33-34).  First, have a sincere regard for those to whom you witness as persons.  Never humiliate anyone, or be ill mannered in any way. 
 
            Second, make the witnessing atmosphere friendly and relaxed.  It can be done over a cup of coffee or tea.  And the conversation should be as normal as when discussing Major League Baseball or knitting. 
 
            Third, seek to speak to the listener’s need, whatever that may be.  It is not productive, especially with an unbeliever, to speak about his or her sins.  Talk about the positive ways that Christ can meet the person’s needs.  Pray for spiritual insight that will enable you to speak a word that will bring comfort, healing, or whatever else may be needed. 
 
            Fourth, allow the Lord Jesus to bring his love into the conversation without strain or effort.  That is what he is longing to do.  Remember that Jesus is the one with the power to heal, forgive and save. 
 
            Fifth, Seek God’s guidance in determining where the Holy Spirit already is working in the person’s life.  We tend to forget that God is already working in most lives, including the lives of unbelievers.  Rinker suggests asking the question, “What do you believe about Jesus Christ?”  Then it is very important that we really listen to what the person and the Holy Spirit have to say.  She suggests further that this a means of searching “for seeds already planted,” which will guide us in the conversation.  What we believe is unimportant until we are asked to share that.  And the people will ask if we remain prayerful and listen with purposeful intent. 
 
 
SERVICE
 
            I am not going to say much about service, because most people associated with the DOC have a solid understanding of what Christian service is.  I just want to make a few remarks regarding willingness to serve.  I want to talk a bit about the fact that there is a difference between serving and being a servant. 
 
            In the parable of the two sons in Matt. 21:28-31, the father of the two boys one day asked each of them to work in his vineyard.  The first refused, but later changed his mind and went to do the work.  The second son immediately agreed to work in the vineyard, but he never actually did so.  In this particular case, the first son (after his immediate refusal) decided to serve his father, even though it was inconvenient for him.  The second son (after immediately agreeing) in the end decided that working for his father that day was too inconvenient for him to do. 
 
            If we translate the situation of these two sons into categories of those who serve Christ, we have two: those who are willing to serve, even if it is inconvenient, and those who are unwilling to serve, because it is inconvenient.  There is a third category: those who presently are serving Christ in some capacity, but who are doing so only at their convenience.  They choose when to serve; they chose where to serve; and they choose whom they will serve.  In other words, they are in charge.  They are serving Christ, but they serve their own interests first.  Their service to Christ comes at their convenience.  This is serving without being a servant. 
 
            Now there is a danger here.  It is possible to be too open and vulnerable, too willing to say, “yes” when asked to perform various services.  We must not neglect our family or other priority responsibilities simply because someone asks us to do something.  Balance is required.  We must know when to say, “no.”  On the other hand, the true servant is willing to give up his or her right to be in charge, and is willing to allow the Holy Spirit to guide his or her service, even if it occasionally leads to being taken advantage of or manipulated.  The true servant surrenders the Spirit the right to when, where, and whom to serve. 

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